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A Distraction - Tilt Wagon



In my previous post, I made the self-fulfilling prophesy that I would be distracted by the forum thread on GWR standard gauge 'tilt' wagons, started by drduncan. Initially there was some discussion as to whether the photo shown was, in fact, of a Broad Gauge wagon but the dimensions (especially the height) seemed sufficiently different to indicate that the vehicle under discussion was indeed Standard Gauge.


Something 'clicked' for me and I decided that I had to add one to my stock, so I began to prepare simple drawings by scaling the photograph, using the assumption that the wheelbase was 9' 9", as in the BG versions. The result, produced in Autosketch by tracing over the photograph, looked like this:




Because the original was of metal construction, I wanted to do the same with my model but I also decided to try a new way of marking out my 10 thou (0.25 mm) brass sheet, making use of my Silhouette Portrait cutter. Previously, my method has been to cut out sections of drawings on paper and stick these to brass sheet, using a glue pen. I then simply cut out the parts by following the printed lines with jewellers' snips.


This time, I decided to use a diamond scriber in the pen holder of the Silhouette cutter, to mark out the outlines of the components directly onto brass sheet. As well as the outlines, this method also enabled me to scribe details, such as planking and guidelines for attaching surface details.





In addition, I realised that if I drew the outline of my rectangular brass sheet on a sheet of paper and also added the Silhouette registration marks, then I could scribe both sides of the brass sheet, in registration. To do this, I lightly taped the brass to the paper, aligned with my outline drawing, and then scribed the detail. I then turned the brass over and scribed the other side with the appropriate designs - remembering to flip the Silhouette image to correspond with the way I turned the sheet over.







Scribing Brass Sheet with a Silhouette Cutter


After cutting out the individual components, I assembled the basic shape of the Tilt Wagon, as shown below. I have a set of socket spanners in a wide range of diameters which provide useful 'jigs' for setting the curvature of the end bonnets. I used super-glue to fix the bonnets inside the folded wagon sides and then inserted the curved ends into the bonnets. I prefer using super-glue to solder where there are lots of different small parts to be fitted together, as it avoids earlier joints melting while new ones are being made. Inevitably, some glue extrudes from the sides of the joints and I use a small stainless steel chisel, intended for wax carving, to remove this excess while it is still at a 'cheesy' consistency.


A prominent feature of the prototype is the extensive use of rivets! I decided to 'cheat' and use the rivet strips that are currently available from 'Mainly Trains'. I realise that this means the rivet heads are on a raised 'plinth' but I find that the near-perfect alignment is preferable, at normal viewing distances, to my attempts at embossing even lines! Additional details are the angle-iron stiffeners along the tops of the sides and on the side doors (1mm brass angle), and the wooden cross-bar at the top of the doors (plasticard). I still have to add the rails above the sides and between the tops of the end bonnets.





There remains the little matter of a chassis! I find that the GWR W-irons from MJT are still listed as "temporarily out of stock", as they have been all year! In addition, I see that 'Mainly Trains' have a notice on their website that "After 35 Years of trading we are beginning the process of winding down." It looks rather ominous for the future supply of many very useful detailing components!


Perhaps I shall have to turn to completely scratch-building the chassis as well.... :)


In the meantime, my 'work in progress' looks like this, making an interesting comparison with a round-ended 3-planker from David Geen.





Continue to next part



Edited by MikeOxon
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Hi Mike, a very interesting post, not only for the subject matter but also your use of the cutter for brass sheet. Would this perhaps be a way forward in coaches too, for some sort of composite approach?


Anyway, the tilt wagon looks very good. Amazing how much character the rivets add to it. So you now probably own the only existing model of this particular design!

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Really good to see a practical outcome of that discussion, Mike. It will be interesting to see how you tackle the underframe as the W-irons, springs and axleboxes are all very spindly compared with the commonly available etched/cast components. Will you be cutting out the little splashers in the floor? They are certainly necessary, even with P4 flanges in my BG kit example.



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Many thanks for the comments.


I agree, Mikkel, that the rivets are crucial to the appearance, especially around the bonnets.  I think the Silhouette could do a good job scribing matchboarded sides, for example.  By using multiple passes, the scribed lines can be quite deep. 


It is rather fun to have a 'unique' model.  I have something else in the wings, too.  Being somewhat out of the mainstream, the Witney branch via North Leigh saw a number of interesting vehicles that have otherwise been almost lost to history  :)


Incidentally, Sir John was overheard to remark "Maybe that wagon would hold all Blanche's hat boxes"


I'm still pondering the undergear, Buffalo.  As you have noted, the W-irons are rather spindly and there's also the matter of the inside springs.  Having got this far, I expect I shall scratch-build the rest.  I shall use a diamond slitting disk on my mini-drill to open out the floor apertures for the wheels.



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  • RMweb Gold

Hat boxes, now there's an interesting item to model. I have one or two from Dart but could do with some scratchbuilt ones. Thanks for the idea. Not sure about a whole wagon full though!

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Hat boxes, now there's an interesting item to model. I have one or two from Dart but could do with some scratchbuilt ones. Thanks for the idea. Not sure about a whole wagon full though!


Mikes getting too far "a-head" of himself ! :)

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Mikes getting too far "a-head" of himself ! :)

There's a lot of truth in that :)   I need to stop rushing off on tangents and actually complete a few things, instead of thinking about hat boxes!  Still, the main thing is to enjoy it all :) :

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Dear Mike,


I'm delighted the tilt wagon thread has borne fruit. Your tilt wagon and use of a die cutter is inspiring!


My sometime partner in modelling crimes Gareth Ashenden (of this parish) has also embarked on a tilt wagon for Empire Mills and despite increasingly unsubtle hints he's still not making an extra one for me to gloat over. (But in his defence he is American and irony and sarcasim often go unoticed, despite regular training in English English! Mind you all sins get forgiven when i remember what an excellent modeller he is... :) )


Anyway to get back to the point Gareth tells me the Broad gauge society do the right w irons.


Keep up the good work!





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  • RMweb Gold

I know I'm late to the show here, but I'm fascinated with this....

What did you use to cut such fine brass from the scribed sheet please?

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Hi Cornerman - it is an interesting wagon, isn't it!


I use a rugged paper guillotine to cut the straight edges - it copes well with 10 thou brass but I wouldn't try anything thicker. Grip the sheet firmly and cut slowly and steadily.


The curved tops to the ends were cut by hand using jewellers snips.  i have both straight and curved-blade varieties, bought from Shesto.  Work slowly and trim away the excess brass at intervals, to avoid it getting in the way and throwing you off the line.   Aim to cut just outside the line and do a final smoothing to the exact shape with needle files or sandpaper (I use a sanding drum in my mini-drill).




ps - looked at your website - superb modelling :)

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41 minutes ago, Chas Levin said:

Wonderful work, as others have said!

So nice to get a comment almost 10 years after I wrote the post - it seems to have stood the test of time 😀

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7 minutes ago, MikeOxon said:

So nice to get a comment almost 10 years after I wrote the post - it seems to have stood the test of time 😀

Ha - I didn't actually spot the date Mike; I clicked on the link in your post on the D299 Appreciation thread and assumed it was a fairly recent thing. But yes, I'd certainly say it's stood the test of time!

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