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GWR 5 ton horse-drawn wagon

Mikkel

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There was a time when men were men and horses weren't lasagna. I’m currently building some horse-drawn vehicles for the little yard behind my goods depot. I began with Langley’s whitemetal kit for a GWR 5 ton wagon. This represents one of the standard designs often seen in photos from pre-grouping days, especially in the London division.

 

It should be said at once that it isn't a finescale kit - indeed it's a bit rough in places. But with a little work I thought it would be OK for a position in the middle-ground of this little layout.

 

 

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The kit as supplied. At 20£ this is no cheap kit, though I imagine the three horses and carter are part of the reason. There is little flash, but most parts do need a bit of filing and tweaking to make a good fit. The instructions are reasonable, although some details of the assembly are left to the imagination.

 

 

 

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To improve appearances, I filed thick bits down to a leaner shape. I added rails between the side boards, and used wire in drilled holes to secure items (as per photo above). I compromised on the stanchions that support the "raves": These are moulded as solid triangles, but replacing them is not really practical, I think.

 

 

 

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In primer. The seating arrangement follows the elevated “Paddington” pattern (as opposed to the much more basic “Birmingham” style). The parts provided for this looked overscale to me, so I basically rebuilt the whole seating arrangement. The fore carriage was fitted in a way that allowed it to actually pivot.

 

 

 

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There are shire horses and then there are shire horses! The one on the left came with the kit along with two others. The one on the right is from Dart castings. I opted for two of the latter.

 

 

 

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I replaced the supplied chain with something finer. To fit the chains to the horses, I sunk bits of wire into the beasts, fitted the chain and then bent the wire to form a small loop.

 

 

 

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For the lettering, I needed yellow letters. There are no ready-made transfers available for these vehicles, so I plundered the HMRS GWR goods wagons sheet, building up the wording letter by letter. The spacing to accommodate the framing was also seen on the prototypes, although it is accentuated here due to the thicker castings. The HMRS sheet does have yellow letters, but not enough for my purposes, so as an experiment I used white letters and coloured them afterwards with a yellow marker. I wouldn’t really recommend this – it works OK at first but you have to be very careful with the subsequent varnishing or it will take the colour right off. I’m not entirely happy with the lettering, but life is short.

 

 

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Done. The chain in the middle is a rough indication of the chains and skids used for locking and braking the wheels when parked.

 

 

 

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I do like the ‘osses. I was going to call them "the Finching Sisters" in honour of the two lovely ladies on Robin's Brent layout. Then I realized they were male.

 

 

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In position in one of the cartage bays. Although one or two details don't stand close inspection on this vehicle, I am reasonably satisfied with the overall outline and feel of it.

 

 

 

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The wagon seen from inside the depot. Not sure what to add in terms of load. It is tempting to do one of the sky-high loads seen in some photos (eg here), but I think it might become visually over-powering on this vehicle. Maybe on the next one.

 

 

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Off-topic: Looks like a leftover from the new year decorations has found it’s way into the goods depot. Happy New Year everyone!

 

Notes on the prototype

For what it’s worth, I’ve added here some of my own notes on these vehicles. Note that they are mainly based on my own observations from photos and drawings. I do have "Great Western Road Vehicles" by P. Kelley, but despite some useful illustrations, this book does not really go into much written detail on the horse-drawn wagons. Perhaps "Great Western Horse Power" by Janet Russell is better, and worth a purchase?

 

Design

These wagons were used for standard and heavy goods cartage. There were different types built to this style, some with six “bays”, some with five. Some were built for a single horse, some for two or more. The tare and tonnage varied considerably across the different designs. They had the “Paddington pattern” of seat arrangement, where the seat was elevated above the wagon. Hoops could be fitted to accommodate sheeting. A light version of the same design was used for parcels delivery vans, with hard tops.

 

Distribution

The wagons were especially prominent at Paddington, where photos suggest they were the all-dominant type in the 1900s. However they were also used elsewhere on the system (even as far as Cardiff, according to one drawing). In some areas they seem to have been rare though, eg at Birmingham Hockley the dominant goods delivery wagon was of a quite different design. A photo from Slough in the 1920s shows the type I have modelled alongside one of the Birmingham style vehicles, so the different types did appear together at some locations.

 

Livery

In Great Western Way (original edition), Slinn states that by the 1900s, station names were applied to larger horse-drawn vehicles whenever there was room for it (as seen on my model above). I have a theory, though, that this practice ended sometime after 1905 or thereabouts: Looking at photos after that date, station names are no longer present, and the “Great Western Railway” and numbering is all on one plank.

 

Slinn also states that numbering was in random positions, but as far as I can see the numbers on these vehicles were always at the front end of the wagon. Perhaps Slinn missed the fact that the relative position of the lettering and numbers was necessarily “handed”, because we read from left to right (ie on the left hand side, it would be written “667 Great Western Railway” and on the right hand side, it would be “Great Western Railway 667”).

 

According to Slinn, the lettering for horse-drawn vehicles in the 1900s was yellow or gold, shaded or not. I doubt gold would have been used for wagons like these, and there is no apparent shading in the photos I have seen. So presumably plain yellow (but the shade of yellow not clear?). I have sometimes wondered whether the lettering was in fact white on some wagons, because it stands out with very high contrast in some photos. However, looking at photos of parcels vans (which are known to have had white letters on their hard tops) it seems that the letters on wagons were darker than white, so presumably yellow. Later in the 1930s, horse-drawn vehicles adopted a different chocolate and cream livery and a different lettering style.

 

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A beautiful job as usual Mikkel.Langley kits are a bit 'hit and miss' aren't they.The Dart Castings horses are quality though and you've painted them superbly.Thanks for the name check btw !I do like your lettering right or wrong and it fits perfectly.

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Thanks Rob! Yes, I agree the horses from Dart castings are really good. And the range keeps growing at the moment. Got one of their new arabian horses which will be popular for horse docks I think. 

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This is really a great job. I like the way you finished the horses and the cart.

Will keep this entry in mind when I'm going to paint my horse and cart.

Makes your depot coming alive.

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Another great piece of modelling Mikkel.

 

I love the way you've taken this kit and lifted it to another level.  The Dart Castings horses as Robin said are pure class.

 

Personally, I think the lettering has worked out very well.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark

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This is really a great job. I like the way you finished the horses and the cart.

Will keep this entry in mind when I'm going to paint my horse and cart.

Makes your depot coming alive.

 

Thanks Job. Yes there is something about horses that reallt help being the stram era alive, I think. I would have used that link on horse painting that you had, but I don't have a spray gun. The blending of paint while wet method worked Ok though. I look forward to seeing your horse and cart.

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Another great piece of modelling Mikkel.

 

I love the way you've taken this kit and lifted it to another level.  The Dart Castings horses as Robin said are pure class.

 

Personally, I think the lettering has worked out very well.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark

 

Hi Mark, thanks for that. I'm especially glad you like the lettering as I was really in doubt. But I'm warming to it.

 

Don't know what we'd di without the Dart range. Although the new Stadden Edwardian figures are also very good. Got one of them in mind for the carter, if I can modify it to suit.

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Very nice work. I look forward to seeing the finished diorama.

 

Do you mind telling me where you obtained the chain? It looks like jewellers' necklace chain - if so, how did you colour it? Metalblack or similar?

 

Thanks

 

David C

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Superb craftsmanship as usual. Think the lettering is perfect and really takes the model up another level making it truly belong to Farthing.

 

How many times do we see the same figures and kits on layouts and yet you seem to make them totally original and new. Great modelling.

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Very nice work. I look forward to seeing the finished diorama.

 

Do you mind telling me where you obtained the chain? It looks like jewellers' necklace chain - if so, how did you colour it? Metalblack or similar?

 

Thanks

 

David C

 

Hello David, the fine chain came from myd odds-and-ends box, so I'm not 100% sure of the origin. But I have a strong feeling it came from an old Ratio kit (the water tower one). The chain used on my cranes is almost as fine, I will check later today where I got that from. I don't use metal blackening as UK retailers are apparently not allowed to send it by post to Denmark and I haven't found any here yet. So I handpaint it with Humbrol black over several sessions, which is a bit of a bodge of course, and time consuming because care is needed to avoid clogging up things with paint.

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Superb craftsmanship as usual. Think the lettering is perfect and really takes the model up another level making it truly belong to Farthing. How many times do we see the same figures and kits on layouts and yet you seem to make them totally original and new. Great modelling.

 

Thanks very much Mike. I always enjoy adding "Farthing" to vehicles and rolling stock  because it adds to the illusion of a real place, I think.

 

I haven't actually seen this wagon used much on other GWR layouts - perhaps because the photo on the box and the website shows it in LMS colours! I'm not even sure the LMS had something similar.

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Mikkel,

 

As usual, you have produced something that is an absolute delight!!  I really can't see how you could have produced a model that could look any better.  As others have said the choice of horses really complements the wagon - the originals almost look like ponies in comparison, and the lettering to me looks "right" (which I think is what really matters in many cases).

 

Ian

 

PS Happy New Year to you too

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Hi Ian, glad you like it. The original Langley horses look a bit like they've been carrying something very heavy for a long time!

 

When I first saw the Dart shire horses, I thought they were overscale. But then I lloked at some photos, and also found this chart:

http://www.robinsonlibrary.com/agriculture/animal/horses/general/size.htm

 

I'm fairly sure Dart have got it right.

 

A whole different matter is how many shire horses the GWR actually had. I don't know enough to tell the different large horse species apart, so sometimes when I look at old GWR pics I'm not sure whether they actually are Shires.

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Excellent as usual Mikkel, good to see your inspirational modelling is continuing into 2014!

 

Happy New year to you!

 

Dave

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Do you mind telling me where you obtained the chain? It looks like jewellers' necklace chain - if so, how did you colour it? Metalblack or similar?

 

David, I have now checked on the chain again. As I said, the chain on the horses here is from the Ratio water tower kit. The chain I have used on my cranes was from Eileens emporium I believe.

 

However, I am happy you asked because your question sent me searching and I found out that Cambrian has pre-blackened fine chain: http://cambrianmodels.co.uk/accswheels.html

 

That is exactly what I have been looking for, so will send an order for some right away.

 

Hope this helps.

 

PS: Cambrian only take cheques, but their chain is also available from H&A Models here: http://www.hamodels.net/index.php?search%5Bkeywords%5D=chain&_a=category

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Excellent as usual Mikkel, good to see your inspirational modelling is continuing into 2014!

 

Happy New year to you!

 

Dave

 

Hi Dave, thankyou and I hope we'll see Uffley move forward next year also. We want to see that Dean Goods stretch its legs :-) 

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Hi Dave, thankyou and I hope we'll see Uffley move forward next year also. We want to see that Dean Goods stretch its legs :-)

Yes, I'm looking forward to getting some track laid this year! I've finished building the points and the double slip, but I need to lay some cork or something similar on top of the baseboards first.

 

Best wishes

 

Dave

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Phenomenal! I hope you are suitably proud of a really lovely and inspirational bit of modelling. The whole ensemble - horses, cart, lettering - is quite wonderful.

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Hi Al, thanks for the kind words - and yes I am warming to this little model. Just need to do another few horse-drawn vehicles and then there are only the details and the fiddle yard to do before I can actually get something running on this micro. About bl**dy time too!

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Yes, I'm looking forward to getting some track laid this year! I've finished building the points and the double slip, but I need to lay some cork or something similar on top of the baseboards first.

 

Best wishes

 

Dave

 

Hi again Dave, that sounds promising. How about a blog update to show the points and double slip, with your standards they'll be works of art I'm sure!

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I think I reached similar conclusions to yourself about the Langley kits but, I must say, that you have finished yours to a higher standard and your substitution of Dart Castings horses is an excellent move!  It's worth noting that Langley supply a lot of useful 'bits', including wheels, for scratch-building and 'modding'.

 

You wrote "Perhaps "Great Western Horse Power" by Janet Russell is better, and worth a purchase?"

 

I have this book and have found it very interesting, with lots of photographs and line drawings. Drawings include a large number of vehicles, arranged by type, including railway horse boxes as well as road vehicles, and components, such as wheels and other details.  A lot of ground is covered, including the provender stores at Didcot and the Mint Stables near Paddington.

 

I suspect she is more knowledgeable about the horses than the vehicles and the pictures, which are very well-reproduced, contain most of the information, rather than the words.  There are, inevitably, some mistakes.  One that is particularly glaring is a photo in the chapter titled "First World War", which includes a rather modern lorry!

 

Overall, I consider it worth having.

 

Mike

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Thanks very much for that info, Mike. That book does sound worth buying. I've actually often toyed with the idea of building a diorama of the Mint stables. Imagine a model of this: http://viewfinder.english-heritage.org.uk/search/detail.aspx?uid=374 - but there wouldn't be much operational interest in it of course!

 

The other main book on GWR horsepower is Kelley's GWR Vehicles mentioned above. This also has little text and most of the info in the captions. It does have a section on horse-drawn vehicles and especially some interesting drawings at the back. But there is no attempt at providing a systematic overview of the main types, and there is a definite Paddington bias. The section on motor vehicles is better. 

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The same photo is in the Russell book - in addition, imagine the smells!

 

I sometimes wonder if one could make moving model horses along the lines of those little plastic models with moving legs, that one can pull along on a string!

 

Mike

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I remember someone on here once that is has been done on a layout - I think it was a shunting horse, pushed by the wagon it was shunting, with the wagon being motorized. Not sure the legs moved though!

 

I tried searching for it just now, but couldn't find it. However I found this instead, which I've never seen before. Fantastic footage, I think: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/shunting-horse

 

(be sure to choose the full screen option)

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Superb work Mikkel. Mind you a bit of deft work with that scalpel and the hroses could have been ladies or Geldings. For what little knowledge I have Shires were preferred for Dray horses and the like being big they were suited to heavy loads. Others like the Suffolk Punch were smaller although very strong and seem to have been a popular choice for agricultural work. I seem to remember a photo of a GW Horse in  Adrian Vaughan's signalmans morning but cannot remember if the breed was specified. Cannot get to my books to look at the moment.

Don

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