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Early GWR Coaches - Printing Sides





My previous post in this series about modelling early GWR coaches ended with the comment: " All that remains is to try and establish some dimensions and start cutting."


Since there are several good side-on photographs of these early coaches, it is only necessary to establish one firm measurement and then scale all the other dimensions to this known 'yardstick'.


Rather perversely, I have decided to model a different coach from those I illustrated in the previous post :) I was looking at a photograph of New Milford, dating from about 1873, which appears in 'Great Western Way' and noticed a line of coaches emerging from the train shed. I scanned a small section of this photo to show these coaches in more detail.*




The coach (arrowed), immediately next to the brake van, appears to be very similar to a composite coach that also appears in a good side-on photo in 'Great Western Way', so I have now decided to model this coach.


I chose to take the diameter of the wheels as my reference measurement and my method was to super-impose a dimensioned drawing of a coach with similar wheels and then to adjust the relative sizes, until the two drawings matched up.


All this was achieved by pasting the known drawing as a 'layer' in 'Photoshop Elements', over the photo of my chosen coach.


Once the layers were aligned, I adjusted the overall size of the image, so that 100 pixels represented one foot in the real coach. I then printed the image at a scale of 250 pixels/cm, which resulted in a 4mm scale image of the coach.




Now that I had a scale colour image, I could import this into my 'Silhouette Studio' software and add the cutting lines around the windows. (In my case, because I prefer to create an 'industry-standard' drawing, I actually drew the lines with 'Autosketch' and imported the result into 'Studio' as a .DXF file.)


However one chooses to do the drawing, the 'Studio' software is used to add registration marks and the colour image is then printed on good-quality photo paper. I also created an inner layer, with smaller cut-outs for the drop lights in the compartment doors. The printed sheet was then cut out, by means of the 'Silhouette' cutter. Lastly, I cut a second copy of the inner layer in 20 thou plasticard, to provide a support for the two printed layers.




As is well known, the 'Silhouette' cutter cannot make clean cuts through 20 thou plasticard, so it was necessary to 'punch out' the individual windows. To do this, I placed one long edge of each window over the edge of my cutting mat and pressed down firmly with one of my wax-carving chisels. This produced a hinged 'chad' that I could then bend, to break it free from the rest of the side.


The final step was to spread a thin film of bookbinders adhesive on the innermost layer and add the next layer, carefully adjusting its position for exact registration of the windows. Then repeat for the top layer, which comprises the coloured coach side. I decided not to cut another layer for the very fine panel edge mouldings but may try adding these with plasticard microstrip, later.




The end result of this stage is a pair of complete coach sides, with recessed drop-lights in the doors. Next step will be to complete the box body, with a pair of plasticard ends, and then I shall build the 4-wheel chassis.




Next Post


* The 1873 photo of New Milford (also in Wikipedia) was presumably taken shortly after gauge conversion. There are many other interesting items of rolling stock, including several different types of cattle wagon, in the foreground.

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Hi Mike


They look great, I think you have a brilliant cottage industry going on there.


I hope you don't mind me adding an idea. Previously I used to use a simple rounded corner rectangle to represent a window. On the class 114 I decided to break this up so that the window became four straight lines connected by four arcs. It helped the accuracy no end and removed the bowing of the sides.





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Thank you, Jason, glad you like 'em!  As you know, it was your thread that got me going with the Silhouette cutter and it has opened up a whole world of early panelled coaches to me :)


I draw my outlines in Autosketch and, as you may recall, had a lot of difficulty transferring curved corners into 'Studio'  It now seems to work OK with the current version.  The method is a little different as, in Autosketch, you draw a rectangle first and then specify curved corners between adjacent sides, as another operation.


I took the photos with oblique lighting to try and emphasise the depth of the drop-light layer.



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Thanks Don.  Printing the sides is very easy and, if you have a 'Silhouette' machine, so is cutting out the relief layers. 


The difficult bit is getting from an old photograph to  the 'artwork', which involves quite a lot of computer image manipulation.  I like to retain as much of the original 'light and shade' as possible, so that my model shows some genuine 19th-century 'weathering' :)



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  • RMweb Gold

More Great Western wonders :-)


I've often marvelled at that photo of New Milford, but it's usually the cattle wagons and V2 in the foreground that catches the attention. That enlargement of the coaches shows just what an interesting rake it is - well spotted.


The side is looking really good. Would it be worth it to see if some separate door vents are available from the trade?

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Hi Mikkel.  Now I have the 'bit between the teeth', I may model the rest of that rake of coaches. 


I notice you referred to the foreground PBV as a V2 but, according to Russell (not always reliable, I know), these were not built until 1876.  The layout of the panelling is different, too (4 each side of the doors), so I think the photograph shows an earlier type, with no tumble-home to the ends.


I note that the BGS do a nice-looking kit of a V2-type and they are also a source of detailing parts.


Regarding the cattle wagons, I recall reading some discussion as to whether transverse strapping was used on early roofs - plenty of those in the 1873 photo do, however, show this feature.



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  • RMweb Gold

Hi Mike, ah ok, I've always thought of it as a V2, thanks for setting that straight. You could include that in your rake too then!

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Hi Mike - just wanted to say what an inspiration your blog is. I have just gone back to modelling GW after many years doing something else and your work (and that of Mikkel) has inspired me to take on a pre-grouping model. 


Best wishes, Mark

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Hi Mark, I'm really pleased that you've enjoyed my writings.  Mikkel was my inspiration and I doubt I shall ever match his witty and insightful contributions, not to mention his modelling skill.  I'll look forward to see your own model.



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I've only just discovered Mike's postings on pre-Grouping GWR modelling - fascinating....! I look forwards to reading all of his interesting threads.... :-)

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Pleased you find it interesting - it makes me feel it's all worth posting :)  Don't miss my Broad Gauge stuff as well.


Many thanks,


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