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Whilst Charles Darwin might have thought he was on to something BR had a slightly different idea on the subject. For those new to all this engineers wagons are generally named after things that live in the sea and some of those names are quite inspired! Whale for the largest of all the ballast hoppers and shark for a ballast plough which does kind of look like one, or at least the ploughs do. This is where BR and Mr Darwin deviate a somewhat as to BR the shark was an evolution of the…erm…Oyster! It’s obvious now I’ve said it isnt it? (what do you mean no?)

Sharks and oysters look very similar and the main difference is that sharks are vac fitted and oysters are unfitted (although some were later vac piped). Wanting something a bit different for Brettell Road and given that the oyster was an LMS design anyway I tracked down a cheap Cambrian shark kit and set to work.
Starting with the body the verandas are 1 plank shorter each end and the van body is 2 planks longer per side. So the side was cut into 5 parts with a scalpel (don’t use a razor saw as you will loose the width from the planks), a plank removed from each end and 2 pieces of 80×60 thou evergreen added in. The handrails were removed as was the extra detail around the doors and the brackets from the ends under the opening. (Use a masking tape mask to protect the planks you need to keep.)
Turning to the chassis the oysters had different w-irons and no full length lower step. I used some MJT w-irons I had lying around and given the short wheelbase (only 9ft) I just used them rigid. The springs and axle boxes are also from MJT. The plough’s edges were thinned down as supplied they look quite thick. The rest of the van was built up pretty much as per the instructions with the usual extra brake gear gubbins.
After paint and still not with the roof finally fitted. My last stage of Brettell Road weathering is still to be added, that being to make the model look wet. Below compared with a ‘normal’ shark
The oysters lasted quite late and some were rebodied with shark style bodies. The only real difference visually would be the w-irons and brake gear if you fancied an easier version.

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