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MSWJR 3-plank dropside wagon

Posted by Mikkel , in Rolling stock 29 May 2014 · 2,498 views

MSWJR wagon kit modification
MSWJR 3-plank dropside wagon I’ve been building some “foreign” stock for the goods depot at Farthing. It’s a real pleasure, but also humbling to realize just how little I know about other companies, and how difficult it can be to obtain kit parts for other pre-grouping companies. We GWR modellers are a spoilt lot!

My 1900s period is before the “common user” arrangement, so most of the goods stock at Farthing would have been the GWR’s own - but there should be room for a handful of foreign vehicles, especially from the companies close by. This included the MSJWR, which crossed the GWR's Berks & Hants line at Savernake, not far from Farthing.

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So first up was a MSWJR 3-plank dropside wagon. Over on gwr.org.uk I had seen a note by Paul Absalom that this could be made by modifying a Slater’s kit for the Midland Railway dia 305 (thanks Paul!). The MR design was used as the basis for 20 wagons ordered by the MSWJR from Oldbury works in 1899.The sides and ends of the Slater’s kit (above) are virtually identical to the MSWJR versions, so these were used directly.


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The running gear is a less straightforward matter. There is very limited documentation available on these wagons, and the only known photo has the underframe in shadow. A drawing has been made, but there is doubt about whether the running gear is portrayed correctly. So an informed guess is the best we can do. This led to an interesting discussion involving several RM Webbers – especially wagonman – as well as Neil Lover of the “Swindon’s other Railway” site and MSWJR historian Mike Barnsley (see this thread for details). Many thanks, gentlemen!



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To cut a long story short, we concluded that the MSWJR probably wouldn’t have gone for the fairly sophisticated and expensive Ellis axleboxes provided in the Slaters kit. So these had to go. An alternative option would have been to modify the existing axleboxes.



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Instead I fitted MJT units/W-irons (non-rocking). This required some of the framing to be carved away, but was otherwise straightforward. Packing was added underneath the units.



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The exact type of axleboxes used by the MSWJR isn’t known, except that they were most likely of the grease type. In photos of other MSWJR wagons I noticed a simple type not unlike the standard GWR grease box. So I fitted some of the latter (also from MJT) and modified/filed them to suit. The only other modification was to file away the MR build plate on the solebar.


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I couldn’t find any ready-made MSWJR lettering, so opted instead for the “white shaded black” letters from one of the HMRS P.O. sheets. These are slightly overscale but close enough, I think. The sheet is rather costly, but I wanted it anyway for lettering some Farthing based P.O. wagons at some point.



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The finished model. I suddenly realized that a dropside wagon might not often be seen inside a goods depot, as they tended to carry loose material, stone etc. But I’m thinking that a couple of large crates might justify a dropside, to facilitate unloading?


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Shunter George “Bulldog” Mullins studiously ignores the new wagon. A GWR man to the core, Mullins treated vehicles from the competition with poorly disguised contempt. In particular, he refused point blank to shunt vehicles from the MSWJR. The origin of this particular grudge was always a bit of a mystery, although some said it had to do with an unfortunate incident in his youth. The details were unclear, but apparently it involved his pet donkey, a sleepy MSWJR driver and a poorly guarded level crossing.
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Great modelling as usual Mikkel and I love Shunter Mullins back story! I've always had a soft spot for the MSWJR and considered modelling it for a while, but like Mr Mullins I'm a confirmed GWR man. I grew up living about half a mile from the MSWJR line about half way between South Cerney and Cricklade. The track had long been lifted, but I spent many happy hours walking my dog along the track bed.

Dave

You're on a slippery slope, Mikkel. 

 

Next thing is that the M&SW will get running powers from Swindon, through Farthing, to Salisbury and all sorts of strange things will start to appear. 

 

Then you won't be able to resist building an Adams radial..... once corruption sets in, it's very hard to hold in check :)

 

Mike

Hi Mikkel,

A lovely job on the wagon as always good sir!

All the best,

Castle

Great modelling as usual Mikkel and I love Shunter Mullins back story! I've always had a soft spot for the MSWJR and considered modelling it for a while, but like Mr Mullins I'm a confirmed GWR man. I grew up living about half a mile from the MSWJR line about half way between South Cerney and Cricklade. The track had long been lifted, but I spent many happy hours walking my dog along the track bed.

Dave

 

Hello Dave, those walks sound very nice!

 

The MSWJR was a very attractive railway, I think. There's something about the history of those "medium"-sized railways that I find very fascinating (eg also the SDJR and DNSR). Mullins is pleased to see you have stuck to the one true path, though! :-)

You're on a slippery slope, Mikkel. 

 

Next thing is that the M&SW will get running powers from Swindon, through Farthing, to Salisbury and all sorts of strange things will start to appear. 

 

Then you won't be able to resist building an Adams radial..... once corruption sets in, it's very hard to hold in check :)

 

Mike

 

Hello Mike, I know exactly what you mean. In fact I already have more non-GWR wagon kits on my desk than I need. Mullins won't like it! 

Hi Mikkel,

A lovely job on the wagon as always good sir!

All the best,

Castle

 

Thanks Castle. The Slaters MR kits are very useful because of that company's connection to the MSWJR and especially the SDJR. Got a couple of modified wagons for the latter in the pipeline.

Mikkel

 

Do you think the Donkey got "splatted"??

 

As for the wagon, it looks brilliant, its even shaming me into thinking I need to add a few pre-group examples into my wagon fleet....WHAT HAVE YOU DONE............

Hi Paul, 

 

Yes, it does look as if the donkey got hit. In fact, the story goes that Mullins' father, upon hearing the tragic news, went directly to the MSWJR HQ and demanded compensation - the size of which corresponded more to the cost of 2 Arabian stallions than a scraggy donkey. Shocked at the demanded amount, the MSWJR lawyer sought first to settle for something more reasonable, but eventually gave in when confronted with the wailing Mullins Junior, his scowling father and the thought of bad publicity.

 

This of course did nothing to soothe the heartbroken young Mullins, whose troubles got worse when it was discovered that the dead donkey had mysteriously disappeared from the scene of the accident. Rumour had it that the local crossing keeper, being a practical man, had secured himself dinner for the next two weeks.

 

Anyway, if this has not scared you off then yes you definetely need some pre-group wagons in your fleet! :-)

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garethashenden
May 30 2014 08:46

I always enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work.

I have scoured the literature but can find no recipe for Donkey Steaks... not even in Mrs. Beaton! 

Great modelling again Mikkel, and I always like the tales / back stories that come associated with the residents of Farthing.  The old cliche of "no animals or children were harmed in the building of this wagon" is clearly not the case in this instance (on both counts) :-)

 

Ian

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Job's Modelling
May 30 2014 09:34

Looking forward to see more "foreign" goods stock.

This one looks really nice.

I always enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work.

 

Thankyou Gareth. Encouragement is needed as I managed to crush the mezzanine floor in my goods depot last night! Almost gave up on it but this morning has seen about half of it rebuilt, so not as bas as feared.

I have scoured the literature but can find no recipe for Donkey Steaks... not even in Mrs. Beaton! 

 

Have you checked in Tesco?  :-)

Great modelling again Mikkel, and I always like the tales / back stories that come associated with the residents of Farthing.  The old cliche of "no animals or children were harmed in the building of this wagon" is clearly not the case in this instance (on both counts) :-)

 

Ian

 

Thanks Ian. Perhaps the back stories are a little exaggerated, but reality is rarely far behind. There's a lovely photo in one of the books on the DNSR which shows "the porter and his pet goat". 

Looking forward to see more "foreign" goods stock.

This one looks really nice.

 

Hi Job, one interesting thing about building non-GWR stock is that it sets the GWR itself into perspective. I'm learning a lot about where the GWR was different from other companies in wagon design, and where it was not. Always useful to broaden our horizons.

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Miss Prism
May 30 2014 10:25

The lettering looks excellent. Did the MSJWR change from 'M.S.J.W.R.' to 'MSJWR' at some time (or even 'M&SWJR') ?  (Looking at Wagonman's wagons in the forum building thread.)

 

Regarding dropsiders frequenting goods depots, I'd never thought about it until you mentioned the point, but I can't see any reason why not, and it could be argued the dropside allowed easier access to all the wagon's contents.

The lettering looks excellent. Did the MSWJR change from 'M.S.J.W.R.' to 'MSJWR' at some time? (Looking at Wagonman's wagons in the building thread.)

 

Regarding dropside wagons frequenting depots, I can't see any reason why not, and it could be argued the dropside allows an easier access to all the wagon's contents.

 

Hello Miss P.  Yes I'm fairly pleased with the lettering, although strictly speaking it is a little too high: Ideally it should be contained within the plank (I believe it was 6 inches). There are several HMRS P.O. sheets, so perhaps I should clarify that the one I used was No. P4 "white shaded black 7.3mm/5.6mm/2.2mm  non-condensed & condensed". I used the 2.2 mm non-condensed letters. There aren't many of these sheets around it seems, but Mainly Trains has them.

 

Regarding the punctuation marks, according to GW Way "by 1920 the fullstops were no longer used". I don't think I've seen any of their wagons carrying the "&".

 

Your comment on the dropsides brings out the issue of why the dropside design wasn't adopted more generally for goods wagons. I suppose dropsides may have had a little less strength, but still...

 

Did the MSJWR change from 'M.S.J.W.R.' to 'MSJWR' at some time (or even 'M&SWJR') ?  (Looking at Wagonman's wagons in the forum building thread.)

According to GWW (1st ed.,p.249) the full stops were no longer used by 1920. On the following page:  "by 1901 Brake Van no.9 had been re-painted ....... and the full stops in the initials were no longer employed"

Uh-oh, I had not noticed that second note about the Brake Van.

 

The copy I have of the prototype photo is not clear enough to reveal whether there are full stops. The prototypes were introduced on the MSWJR in 1899. Photos of various MSWJR wagons introduced three years earlier in 1896 show the full stops (as did the brake van you mention). With the 1920 date mentioned in GW Way I thought I was safe in using the full stops, but maybe not.

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webbcompound
May 30 2014 12:47

I have followed your stuff from the beginning, and all of it is excellent. Regarding foreign wagons there was a fair amount of movement of specific products, returning wagons being empty of course. So all you need is to find the product to explain the wagon. Seasonal or perishable produce was often localised, but tended to go to the big cities where it was transhipped (bananas via LNWR from Liverpool to London for instance), but machinery and hardware could come from quite a distance, and not all the named fast goods trains on the GWR went to London so stuff from Birkenhead for example could easily find its way to Farthing. I'm sure you can write the sory for each wagon you like the look of!

Beware the account in GWW first edition! The section in the second edition is somewhat clearer and more detailed and was re-written by Mike Barnsley. It's clear from his account that there were a variety of liveries around 1900. He mentions second-hand vehicles delivered in 1887 with "M&SWJRY", then "M.S.W.J.R" by the mid-1890s (incidentally, some Gloucester built examples had a trailing full stop). Some "LSWR-style" opens received "M.& S.W.J.R" in 12" letters around the turn of the century. Then, "During the 1900s, a return was made to the earlier style of small letters about 6" high but with...'M S W J R' without any full stops."

 

So, it looks like "M.S.W.J.R" is good for mid 1890s to perhaps mid-1900s and maybe a little beyond.

 

Incidentally, Mike's partial quote about brake van No 9 is perhaps misleading in that it omits the essential difference that the lettering was about 14" high and is not the small letter, no full-stop version that came in in the 1900s, just another of several large letter variations.

 

Nick

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Miss Prism
May 30 2014 13:52

Great stuff. At least we're not arguing about the colour this time...

Incidentally, Mike's partial quote about brake van No 9 is perhaps misleading in that it omits the essential difference that the lettering was about 14" high and is not the small letter, no full-stop version that came in in the 1900s, just another of several large letter variations.
My apologies for the partial quote - always dangerous - though I was only sparing my typing fingers! 
 
I only intended to indicate that there was some evidence for dropping the punctuation, as early as 1901.  I suspect that there was much less consistency in such matters within the smaller companies, where much of the stock was 'bought in'.

Great stuff. At least we're not arguing about the colour this time...

There does seem to be debate about the shade of grey :)

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Miss Prism
May 30 2014 17:19

Mikkel is the expert on shades of grey...

I have followed your stuff from the beginning, and all of it is excellent. Regarding foreign wagons there was a fair amount of movement of specific products, returning wagons being empty of course. So all you need is to find the product to explain the wagon. Seasonal or perishable produce was often localised, but tended to go to the big cities where it was transhipped (bananas via LNWR from Liverpool to London for instance), but machinery and hardware could come from quite a distance, and not all the named fast goods trains on the GWR went to London so stuff from Birkenhead for example could easily find its way to Farthing. I'm sure you can write the sory for each wagon you like the look of!

 

Thankyou webbcompound, I'm afraid I tend to postpone the issue of loads (and couplings!) when building wagons. The plan is to have a separate phase where I focus on loads for all my wagons, but I'm not sure it's a good strategy! Anyway, I really like the idea of having a little story for each foreign wagon to justify its presence, preferably one that is reasonably plausible. As always, there is initial inspiration to be had on this site.

 

I am thinking of putting 2-3 large crates in my MSWJR dropside, but not sure what they would contain. Perhaps unassembled farming machinery, eg ploughs or farming rakes from a local manufacturer in MSWJR territory? I am not sure if that kind of load would enter a goods depot though. Although I have cranes inside, they are not heavy duty ones.  It might perhaps be more likely to have been handled outside, by a larger crane. And I am not sure if ploughs etc were actually sold in unassembled condition in the 1900s - these are pre-Ikea days after all :-)  

 

Beware the account in GWW first edition! The section in the second edition is somewhat clearer and more detailed and was re-written by Mike Barnsley. It's clear from his account that there were a variety of liveries around 1900. He mentions second-hand vehicles delivered in 1887 with "M&SWJRY", then "M.S.W.J.R" by the mid-1890s (incidentally, some Gloucester built examples had a trailing full stop). Some "LSWR-style" opens received "M.& S.W.J.R" in 12" letters around the turn of the century. Then, "During the 1900s, a return was made to the earlier style of small letters about 6" high but with...'M S W J R' without any full stops."

 

So, it looks like "M.S.W.J.R" is good for mid 1890s to perhaps mid-1900s and maybe a little beyond.

 

Incidentally, Mike's partial quote about brake van No 9 is perhaps misleading in that it omits the essential difference that the lettering was about 14" high and is not the small letter, no full-stop version that came in in the 1900s, just another of several large letter variations.

 

Nick

 

Many thanks Nick. I have the 1978 version so was not aware of this. It looks as if I can theoretically justify the full stops then (I like the look of them, very old-world). Whether these wagons also had them in practice is a different matter. I think there's a possibility that the original of the photo of the wagons might reveal it. I have sent Mike Barnsley an e-mail so perhaps he will comment. 

 

 

 

My apologies for the partial quote - always dangerous - though I was only sparing my typing fingers! 
 
I only intended to indicate that there was some evidence for dropping the punctuation, as early as 1901.  I suspect that there was much less consistency in such matters within the smaller companies, where much of the stock was 'bought in'.

 

 

I agree, it's part of the charm of the MSWJR and similar companies that the stock came from various sources. But it does make the modelling a bit tricky when there is no direct evidence.

 

Great stuff. At least we're not arguing about the colour this time...

 

 

There does seem to be debate about the shade of grey  :)

 

 

Mikkel is the expert on shades of grey...

 

 

I did ponder this a bit. The issue of grey becomes even more complicated when you are building wagons from several different companies. Eg how does MSWJR grey compare to LNWR grey - and does such a comparison make any sense at all, or is the particular weathering of any given wagon a greater factor. And if the latter, would it have made a difference that LNWR wagons presumably frequented large industrial cities more than MSWJR wagons? The mind boggles.

 

In the end, I painted it what is know to us experts as "Medium Grey" ;-)

..... it does make the modelling a bit tricky when there is no direct evidence.

 

The reference books all seem somewhat lacking in any information at all about Farthing! 

 

I think you may find that, before absorption by the GWR, the line from Swindon to Salisbury was built by the Swindon, Farthing,and Salisbury Railway (S.F & S.R). 

 

I'm sure a little research on your part would reveal the precise liveries used on all their stock and I predict you will find exact matches to their lettering styles in your current stock of transfers  :)

 

There are even rumours that, like their neighbouring line to Andover, they took an interest in Fairlie's patent.

 

Mike

That is very useful information, I must delve into the archives and see what they reveal!

 

But I will have to take issue with the SF&SR name. Those are the names (abbreviations) of three political parties here in Denmark, and so to me it sounds more like a coalition government than a railway :-)

 

Certain early maps describe the original line as the  "North & South Railway". That is a little dull though, so let's say the name was later changed to something like the Wiltshire & South Coast Railway (WSCR) - although that abbreviation was also used by the Woodside & South Croydon. Alternatively perhaps the Wiltshire & Southern Ports Railway (WSPR)...

 

In any case, I can see how an old wagon may have been languishing in a siding somewhere at Farthing, still lettered with the original name of the railway. A dumb-buffered one, perhaps, bought secondhand by the optimistic but under-funded fledgling railway company. 

Thank you for the link - I can see that your researches have been far more thorough than mine. 

 

I can now see that the idea of an SF&SR was far too 'parochial' for true Victorian entrepreneurs and, of course, more grandiose titles were adopted :)

 

Mike

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