On the 15th of March 1883, the Western Australian Government Railways placed an order with the Metropolitan Railway Carriage and Wagon Co. of Birmingham England, for 4 bogie type carriages. With their steel underframes and timber panelled bodies and longitudinal seating arrangements, they were much heavier and longer than the earlier carriages already in use. They were the first cars on the WAGR to have gangways between the end platforms allowing passengers to move from one car to the next. This arrangement with platform ends gave the cars a similar look to the contemporary American carriages of the day and thus they became known as “American” cars # 8 – 11. In 1885 a further 6 “Americans” entered service and they were all classified “AB” and then later altered to “ABA”. In the 1900 reclassifications they were grouped with the American built “Gilbert” cars as the “AG” class.
In 1905 three of the original Americans (9,12 & 17) had brake compartments fitted and were sent to Kalgoorlie operating as brake cars on the local trains in the goldfields. By 1921 they had returned to Perth and all 3 cars entered the workshops and were converted into Buffet cars “AGB” class for use on trains which did not justify the use of the larger AV dining cars. The conversions involved the building of completely new bodies in a similar style to the AQ & ARS cars. The most obvious changes included a wider car body and the “Bull nose” style roof. Each AGB could accommodate 24 diners in the ornately finished, varnished timber saloon areas.
By 1935 the Buffet Cars had become redundant due to continual loss of revenue and once again the 3 AGB cars entered the Midland Workshops. #17 was converted to “Shower Car” AGS 22. #12 was converted to a survey car as AGB 2 later to become AL2.
|Z9 at BHP's Kwinana siding, on a ARHS tour train - Rail Heritage WA Collection - P6549|
AGB 9 re-entered service in 1938 as a suburban brakevan classified as AGV 9 retaining its body style, however this conversion was not successful in this form and it was rebuilt with tongue and groove match wood sides to its current configuration, losing all of its side windows. In addition it had a brake compartment with guards lookouts fitted along with dog boxes and centrally located sliding doors, and was re-classified Z 9 in October 1938 when it was then transferred to wagon stock for use as a general brakevan.
|Z9 - WAGR Outline Drawing|
Z 9 soon found a new lease of life with operation on “Reso” (Resources) trains throughout the Eastern, Southwestern and Southern districts of Western Australia. Its icebox & food storage capacity were found to be most suitable on these services. In 1975, Z 9 was exclusively used to convey frozen & perishable traffic from Perth to Narrogin. When this service ceased in 1976, the brakevan was then used specifically on Perth suburban goods services. In later years it was commonly used on specials and also extended tours by the Australian Railway Historical Soc.
Z9 On and ARHS tour at Bringo - Rail Heritage WA Collection - T3984
During its life, changes to this vehicle since 1938 have essentially been the changes of colour scheme. In the mid 1950’s the Indian red livery gave way to a coat of all over of larch green. This colour remained until the larch green and cream colour scheme was applied early in the 1960’s. In 1983 the standard Westrail “yellow” colour scheme was later applied in which it remained until its withdrawal from service. During the mid 60’s the roof ventilators and other fittings were removed no doubt when a new roof skin was applied. Time also caused some deterioration with the horizontal side board detail slowly being removed leaving the vertical tongue and groove side and then later the dog box doors being filled in.
|Z9 on an ARHS Tour to Nannup 1962|
In 1985, Z 9 became surplus to Westrail’s requirements & Z9 was purchased by Hotham Valley Tourist Railway. Before being withdrawn from active service at 101 years of age, it was the oldest piece of rollingstock operated by Westrail. Today Z9 resides undercover at the Hotham Valley Tourist Railway depot at Dwellingup. It has seen use on many mainline tours with HVTR travelling over much of the state rail narrow gauge network, as far east as Newdegate, south to Albany and Pemberton and north to Geraldton.
Z9 is recognised as a historical and iconic item of preserved WAGR rollingstock.
Z9 - The Model
During early 2010 I commenced down the path of researching and producing a model of AGS 22 the WAGR shower car (as previously blogged). At the time I was convinced by others in the S scale group that I should have a go at producing the AGS as a urethane kit, and so after some deliberation I decided to give it a go. With the basics of the AGS body framework complete, I decided that I would replicate that framework again to build a model of Z9 at the same time, as I considered that this was then a easy scratchbuild using castings of the floor and roof parts from the AGS project to achieve a model of sister car Z9. I also considered that it was an easy scratchbuild for anyone else to produce and thus not worthwhile progressing into a kit of its own. Construction of these two cars would compliment my ARS, AQZ and AV cars to enable operation of a “Reso” style train. Work on these projects continued throughout the winter and in Oct 2010, the Z9 scratchbuild and the AGS 22 kit prototype were completed, with the AGS kit released for sale to members of the S scale group at the November meeting.
|Scratchbuilt Z9 and AGS 22 kit completed in 2010|
During the following months some needling by group members took place, asking me to consider making a kit of Z9, something I was not really keen to do as I now already had a model of this vehicle. To make a kit would mean doubling up and I really wanted to move on and so consideration turned to some other projects until early in July 2012, I found some interesting pictures of Z9 (above) whilst scanning through the “Rail Heritage WA Archive Photo Gallery”. The main picture (P-6549) showed a version of Z9 I had not seen before and made me realise that most existing models made of Z9 were based on a much later 70’s – 80’s period and in the form we know it to be, in preservation today. Further research revealed a much nicer version of Z9, with roof and car body detail that I could not resist, and so later in July, armed with measurements I had taken from the real Z9 at HVTR’s Dwellingup carriage shed on a previous visit, work commenced on patterns for a new model/kit.
|New side patterns for Z9 kit|
As the model would use parts from the previous AGS kit, it only required making patterns for the 2 car body sides and the end wall. Existing AGS parts included the roof, floor/underframe and the platform end decking. These patterns were retrieved from storage and prepared for use whilst making the new parts. This enabled a new Z9 version to come to life relatively quickly with the first roof, side and end castings being turned out in the middle of August and a prototype body was soon assembled.
|Basic assembled body next to an AQZ|
Some time was then taken organising a new brass etch for a “lazy S” style gate to enable the car to have suitable platform end gates. The new gate etch arrived in late October and work recommenced on completing the prototype for the Z9 Kit.
|Gates, underfloor roof and general detail added - ready to paint|
After spending the first week of November in the paint shop, the new Z9 was completed, exactly 2 years to the day from my first Z9 scratchbuild. Kits became available at the November S scale meeting that following week.
|Painted Lazy S End gates|
Although I never intended to produce a second model of Z9, I am now happy that I did. The project has helped me to improve my skills and enabled a much better model than the one I originally scratchbuilt. It also caused me to look at and explore some other areas of modelling which I had not considered previously, so it ended up being a worthwhile exercise.
|Completed Z9 kit prototype.|
This kit by WestOzModels is now available, although stocks are limited.
Essentially it is a "Body" kit only, with some detailing parts (specific to this car) included.
The modeller will need a basic grounding in assembling of urethane kits and a reasonable level of modelling skills to complete the model.
Prototype information complied from “A History of WAGR Passengers Carriages” by A. May and B. Gray and