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Early GWR Coaches - Building the Body





Having shown my printed coach sides in the previous post, 'all' I had to do to complete the coach was to assemble the 'box' structure and add wheels. These small tasks have taken some time, as a result of other distractions but, apart from final detailing, I can now show the coach on the track and alongside some later (1870s) GWR designs.


In order to complete the coach body, I needed ends and a floor. I used my 'Silhouette' cutter to make curved-top ends from 20 thou plasticard and cut additional parts to act as compartment separators. The floor is a simple rectangle, cut by hand from 40 thou (1 mm) plasticard. Since the innermost layers of my laminated sides are 20 thou plasticard, It was easy to assemble the body, using MEK-type cement to weld everything together. I fixed one side and one end to the floor first and, when these were firm, added the opposite parts. I then placed partitions at the appropriate places, which also serve to maintain the spacing of the opposite sides, along their length.




For the undergear, I used MJT 2299 W-irons (temporarily out of stock again but, fortunately, I had some in hand). I find it easier to make the narrow transverse folds first and then fold the W-irons (opposite to instructions). I mounted one unit on the rocking plate and filled the space between the tabs on the fixed unit with a rectangle of 40 thou plasticard. I marked the centre-line along the underside of the coach floor as well as the positions for the two axles, at 52 mm (13ft equiv.) spacing. I glued the two units to the floor with bookbinders adhesive and allowed to set.




The springs are MJT 2248, 4' 6" springs on J-hangers which, unfortunately, come with oil axleboxes. (I may file these down to represent flat-faced grease boxes, but have left them for the moment). I then added sole bars, made from strips of plasticard fixed below the edges of the floor. The MJT 2299 etch includes several detailing items that are useful for representing the fittings on wooden sole bars. I still have to fit the lower foot-boards and there are many other details to add. Since I am considering building the companion all-third coach, which also appears in the 1873 New Milford photograph, I shall probably wait until both are constructed and then add detailing in a 'batch process'.




As usual, it is difficult to appreciate the relative sizes of different coaches, from the illustrations in books. I had already noticed how low the sides appeared to be, while I was building the coach, which seems to reflect that the average height of passengers was lower in the Victorian period than nowadays. To visualise the difference more clearly, I included the coach in a train made up from other GWR 19th-century coaches. In the following photo, the coach immediately behind the current one is an S5, dating from 1874, described in a previous blog post This is followed by a clerestory U29, described at http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/blog/1405/entry-13364-six-wheelers-wip-update/. At the end of the train, the light has caught the ducket of a V5 PBV, which I built using 'Shirescenes' sides on a 'Ratio' chassis.




I decided to photograph this train from the opposite direction that I usually choose, when photographing North Leigh. My usual choice is partly because it is slightly more difficult to use the camera from the other side but also because I need to do a lot more work on the scenery at the 'Oxford' end! The creamery building can be seen behind the train but the back scene is far from complete, except for a small area around the lime kilns, which can be seen in the background, beyond the narrow-gauge engine shed.


Perhaps showing this view will spur me into doing some more work on the scenery at that end of the layout :)

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I have followed these with interest.  Superb innovation and creativity and a very satisfying result.  I shall certainly attempt to emulate you if one day I gain a Silhouette cutter.


But "ducket"! Surely you know better than that!

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  • RMweb Gold

Excellent! I do like your 4 wheel coaches and they inspire me.  The only problem is that there is very little information about Cambrian 4 Wheelers.  (The good news is people are beginning to make kits of them.)  GWR 4 wheelers may still make it down the line from Dolgelley though.

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I'm glad you like them, Chris.  I get the impression that a lot of these early (pre-1870) coaches were built by specialist contractors, such as Joseph Wright, so many railways probably bought identical designs and just had them painted and finished differently.

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  • RMweb Gold

Hi Mike, just catching up after a period in "lurking mode" (who on earth invented wage labour, what a silly idea and so time demanding!).


It's a real pleasure to follow the development of your stock, every coach is special. This one simply screams 19th century. Interesting to see the size difference as you say. I find it can be a challenge for the modeller, because it looks like the coaches are to different scales - but that last shot of yours looks right to me and very typical of the ungodly mix of GW trains of the time.


Bad news that the MJT W-irons are sold out again, but at least it's an indication that there's a customer base for their products.

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Thank you Mikkel - I'd noticed your absence! I do hope that your labours are not too demanding.  (at least, 'wage' is an advance on 'slave')


I shall be posting again soon on some more of these old coaches.  There seems to have been a realisation, around 1870 or so, that railway carriages need not be based on horse-drawn carriage styles. This resulted in a sudden leap in the overall scale of the vehicles and in the strength of their construction.  After that leap, the scale of things has remained much the same, except for the overall length and the introduction of bogies.


There is nothing like building models, to bring out differences that are not always apparent in photographs.

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