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A tall bird from Paddington

Posted by Mikkel , in Construction, The Depot 05 February 2013 · 7,963 views

GWR Goods depot crane
A tall bird from Paddington Here's a little scratch-building project that I'm working on in-between the coach painting. The prototypes were used extensively at Paddington Goods in the 1900s. A similar but more austere type was used at Hockley.

I couldn't find any drawings, so the dimensions are guesstimates based on photos. The build was a real pleasure, especially sourcing the parts.

I'll let the pictures explain the rest - gradually! :jester:

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In other words, a shed crane. I still need to model the operating lever which was situated next to the crane, and which (as far as I understand) connected to a mechanism beneath the deck. I plan to build at least one more of these - although possibly a more heavy duty type.

There are a couple of things I might do differently on the next one. I think the counter-weight is a little underscale. I will also do the pulley wheels different next time. We live and learn!

PS: Thanks to Missy for the tip about the watchmaker's parts, available on ebay.
  • Like x 52
  • Craftsmanship/Clever x 2

Bloody fantastic Mikkel.You can scratchbuild better than I build from kits.Great work.

Hi Mikkel,

That is really excellent and with all that scratchbuild ing using paintbrushes, you seem to have put pay to any more coach painting....

All the best,




You have amazed me yet again, that is just fantastic.


You talk about my eye for detail but this shows I have still a long way to reach your standard. That scratch building is superb especially when seen against the photographs of the original.


I can hardly wait for the next one




That is amazing!

Job's Modelling
Feb 05 2013 20:37

Nice crane.

When I see such a nice piece of modelling I wished I had the possibility to use other materials then card, wood and only water based glues.

But on the other hand I'm glad I can still do some modelling.

Like your blog very much. Keep surprising us.

Very nice, Mikkel!

Good to see that I'm not the only one who saves old paint brushes in case they can be used for something else.



Many thanks gentlemen. It's a great thing about railway modelling that we can take some obscure object from the past and bring it back to the present.


I had better explain about the problems I had with the pulley wheels as I wouldn't want anyone to repeat my mistake:


As you can see they were made from watchmakers parts. I had expected that I could polish the teeth/cogs away by mounting the gears in a mini-drill or similar, but this is hard stuff and you need much more serious machinery than I have.


I think they would be excellent for making gears on a crane, but less so for pulley wheels. At least for someone like me. Modellers who have good metalworking skills and kit might fare better.


So after various attempts I ended up simply using varnish to fill in/smoothen the gaps between the teeth. However this is not really an ideal solution. Next time I will simply try to scratchbuild the pulley wheels.

I can only echo the comments above! A really lovely bit of modelling, what colour were they painted Mikkel, or is that another "can of worms!"


Ah yes, the livery question :-)  So far I think grey. But what shade? Dark? 

Brilliant.................that is exquisite work Mikkel.



Thanks Andy and all (sorry the comments are jumbled up a bit, some of my responses don't seem to have registered). 


Yes, this was a real paintbrush massacre! Not only a sign of laziness, (reaching for whatever is close at hand!). The metal tip of a fine paint brush is actually a shape that can be hard to find anywhere else in the house.


Job, your use of card and wood is in my view superb. It's funny how modellers prefer different kind of materials. Technically this crane would have been a more proper build in brass, but I feel much more comfortable with plastic.

cornish trains jez
Feb 05 2013 21:58
Fantastic work Mikkel! Looks absolutely superb!!
Best regards,
Wonderful Mikkel

A great result...and I enjoyed to try and guess what you were making as the pics unfolded ;)

Lovely work, Mikkel. It really looks the part against those Paddington Goods photos.


I had to laugh, though, not at you but at myself. I've been thinking about my yard crane since October and had finally decided that I would have to scratch build it. Eventually, I've sort of made a start. This evening I spent a couple of hours in the garage making a tool to help make part of it and came in feeling very pleased with myself. Now back indoors, the first thing I open on RMweb is this blog entry of yours and I find you've made a complete crane. It rather puts my efforts in perspective...



Great work Mikkel.


The step by step pictures kind of kept you on the edge of your seat-along with an element of Rolf Harris 'Can you guess what it is yet?'


A fantastic little project that has produced a beautiful representation of the prototype.





Feb 05 2013 22:21
Great stuff, looks like it belongs in that photo!
Love it... a work of art!

(I think the Turner prize panel would appreciate the whole Farthing universe, with its 'back story' along with the actual artefacts...)
So that's what you wanted those cogs and spare parts for!!!!

Very clever, Mikkel. A first class exercise in improvisation.

Outstanding presentation too. Well done!


Very nice Mikkel

So is this the start of a model of Paddington goods shed?

I just hopr you get the right shade of dark.

Feb 06 2013 02:29

Once again your lateral thinking puts my dullard old brain to shame. Faced with the same task my thoughts would naturally turn to getting the majority of this etched for soldered construction. But no! Here you rummage through a cornucopia of beads, dismember a couple of paintbrushes and effortlessly knock out booms, tapered jibs and counterjibs in plastikard and plastic rod with seeming abandon. And what a result! And doesn't it look right at home in front of the scene at PDN?

Yes, very impressive Mikkel. Quite an odd looking prototype which always makes a great model subject.

Interesting point is that all the stock apears to be GW... In that 1926 picture.

Thankyou everyone for your kind comments. The "can you guess what it is yet" mode of presentation can sometimes be a little irritating for the reader, but I couldn't resist it here :-)


No, this is not the start of doing Paddington Goods, although it would be an immensely interesting project. As Buckjumper's research and project shows, there is so much potential for modelling the London area goods operations. Anyway I am just stealing the design of the Paddington cranes and using them in the Farthing goods depot as a way of hinting that this is a fairly large depot although we are only seeing a small part of it (which is also why I need at least one more crane).


Sasquatch, I think the wagons in the 1926 (actually 1927) photo carry the 16" GW letters, which replaced the 25" letters around 1920. The 5" letters were introduced in 1936. So that is as would be expected?


Doing something like this in plastikard and with ad hoc available items is fast and fairly simple. But it also involves compromises. For instance I would say I have stretched the plastikard to the limit here - now that everything is in place it is structurally sound, but there were some dodgy moments along the way when it looked like I would end up with a banana shaped crane! And there is the thickness of edges etc which only brass could get 100% right.


So there is an awful lot of good to say for the more exacting and laborious approach that eg you are talking about, Nick and Buckjumper: That to me is still the gold standard way of doing things and in due course we'll all admire the results! To me it's just a matter of finding the approach that suits me best.

Western Star
Feb 06 2013 11:37

What is the source of the photos which you have used as backdrops to your beautiful Crane?

Hello Western Star, the photos are in "GWR Goods Services, Part 2A: Goods Depots and Their Operation" by Tony Atkins, publishers Wild Swan, page 88 and 93 respectively. The original photos are credited to the NRM. This series is highly recommended, perhaps especially this volume (part 2A), which has a number of photos from Paddington Goods and other London goods depots.


If you like large goods depots, the photos on the Warwickshire Railways website from Birmingham Hockley are also a treat: http://warwickshirer...goods_part1.htm

Feb 06 2013 12:59

Brilliant, I love things made from something else.

Yeah, it's fun isn't it :-)  And it doesn't have to be on a small scale either. Jim SW does the same on Birmingham New Street (no other comparison intended!).

Feb 06 2013 21:35
I like your resourcefulness. The result is very impressive, and even more-so when superimposed over original photographs ...

One question: Do you really have such a selection of colourful beads in all shapes and sizes (picture 16)?

I recently found small glass beads to be a good representation of fancy Victorian multi-faceted lamps and have since been thinking of other uses for what's on offer in my nearby bead shop!

Hi Southernboy, the beads are my daughter's. As far as I remember they are a mix from many different small bags that she collected throughout her childhood. They're all plastic.


But she is 19 now, and so I dug them out of storage and plundered just two white ones!


Those Victorian lamps sound very appealing! 

Feb 07 2013 18:48

Brilliant!  If you'd have painted that before putting it up against the real photograph there's no way you'd think it wasn't part of the scene.  This is the sheer joy of modelling isn't it - building something from absolute scratch, using the most unlikely of materials to do it with and then pulling it off?  The paint brush for the weight part is sheer genius.   

Welcome to Farthing!

Attached Image: farthing2.jpg


This blog chronicles the building of "The Farthing layouts", a series of small OO layouts that portray different sections of a GWR junction station in Edwardian days.


Intro and concept
How to eat an elephant
Design principles
State of play


Gallery (1900-1904)
Four o'clock blues, ca. 1902
What really happened in the Cuban...
The honourable slipper boy (Part 1)
The honourable slipper boy (Part 2)
The honourable slipper boy (Part 3)


Gallery (1904-08)
The trials of Mr Bull
A most implausible arrival
A parcel for Mr Ahern
Blue skies and horse traffic
The Remains of the Day
Motley crew

Edwardian daydreams


Gallery (1914)
All in a day's work, Part 1
All in a day's work, Part 2
All in a day's work, Part 3
All in a day's work, Part 4


Out of period
Undecided sky (1867)
The sleeping giant (1887)
Bunker first (1927)
Fitted fish and piles (1947)


Once Upon a Time in the West
Summer silliness
The unbearable lightness...
Across the years
The Sidelight Job
Painting coach panels

Traverser testing


Low-tech pre-grouping stock

Short trains for short layouts
Short trains with a twist
Hand-me-down coaches
Low-tech coach restoration (1)
Low-tech coach restoration (2)
Low-tech coach restoration (3)
Low-tech coach restoration (4)
Low-tech coach restoration (5)


Sprat & Winkle couplings
3 plank Open in GWR red
Outside Framed 8 Ton Van

In the red: GWR 1900s wagon liveries
In loving memory...
Scratchbuilt GWR one-plank wagon (1)
Scratchbuilt GWR one-plank wagon (2)
MSWJR 3-plank dropside
LSWR 10 ton sliding door van
SDJR Road Van
LSWR stone wagon
Fake news and wagon sheets
Same but different: 1900s wagons


GWR 1854 Saddle Tank (1)
GWR 1854 Saddle Tank (2)
Shiny domes and safety valve covers
Backdating the Oxford Dean Goods (1)


GWR large flat dray
Ratkin & Son horse-drawn wagon
Kit-bashed GWR light dray
GWR horse-drawn trolley
GWR 5-ton horse-drawn wagon
Parcels van and coal trolley


Fun with crates
Barrels, baskets, bales
Small crates and tea chests


Porters and Barrows
Andrew Stadden 4mm figures
Backdated Monty's figures
Footplate crew
HO figures for an OO layout
Lesser known whitemetal figures


C+L underlay and Carr's ballast
Experiments with C+L track
Comparing track
Messing about with track panels
Laying track on "The depot"


Constructing the Branch Bay
First bite: "The bay"
Simple structures for "The bay"
Platform trolleys and barrows
Signs, posters and adverts
Six lessons learnt


Constructing the Goods Depot
Second bite: "The depot"
Shunting Puzzle
Sketches of The depot
Soft body, hard shell
Kit-bashed roof structure
Dry Run
Dusting off the cobwebs
Playing with mirrors
Mezzanine floor
Progress on "The depot"
4mm slate roofing
The treachery of images

A roof for "The depot"

A tall bird from Paddington
Cranes for the depot
Shoulders of giants
Flight of the bumblebee


Constructing the Old Yard
Third bite: "The sidings"
Wagon propulsion
Progress on "The sidings"
Rising from slumber
The Biscuit Shed
A shed and a lock-up
Agricultural merchant's warehouse
Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall
Stops, levers, plates, gauge, wall
Lamps and Lamplighters


Constructing the Stables
GWR Park Royal stable block
GWR stables - an overview


Railway modelling and Art
Moving Pictures
Season's greetings


Layout ideas
A flexible layout
Kicking back in Gloucester


Pre-grouping livery clippings
Journey to Didcot
Detail hunting at Didcot
Here's looking at you
The mists of time (and all that)
My friend the operating chair
Ready-to-plonk freight
GWR Modelling website


RMweb Workbench
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