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Sleeper-built coaling platform (Poppy's WoodTech)




December 2016

I spent some time admiring the timber kits by Poppy's WoodTech, weighing up the pros and cons of trying out an overscale 4 mm kit or an underscale 3 mm one. The coaling platform appealed in particular, it looked more realistic than something I could make from strips of wood or styrene. After a while, I wrote to them and asked if they could do a 3.5 mm (H0) version, and my kit arrived in the post about four weeks later.


We had a brief correspondence along the way concerning the best size of the sleepers because this would follow on to any further kits for H0. In essence, there is no "true to scale" model railway track for British H0, so I suggested the scale size of a real sleeper. This ends up close to the size of sleepers in Peco track (which are essentially correct but too close together), and rather smaller than the sleepers of SMP type J (which are about the right pitch but too long and too wide):


Length: 29.8 ± 0.2 mm
Width: 3.0 ± 0.1 mm
Thickness 1.6 +0.2/-0.1 mm


These dimensions represent 1/87 of a real sleeper, which is usually 8' 6" long, 10" wide and 5 or 6" thick, with tolerances added by me to blend in with Peco and SMP. The ideal being to make a kit for a scale model which looks good with the track on the British H0 modeller's own layout.


I haven't built the 4 mm scale version of this kit (reviewed in the mainstream press) but the H0 kit looks much the same as the photographs I have seen. Inside the bag there are some pieces of laser-cut plywood and a sheet of instructions:


The sections for the deck and the walls are to be glued up from two layers of 0.9 mm plywood, while the legs and braces underneath are a single thickness of 1.6 mm plywood. This means, the deck and walls end up a shade over scale thickness (about 1.9 mm total) while the legs and braces are spot-on. It all looks right to me - much more like real sleepers than the bases of flexi-track.


The kit was a pleasure to built - all the parts are exactly the right size with virtually no filing or fitting. I chose to put walls on three edges of the platform and I trimmed these walls to the lengths I wanted but there is plenty of flexibility to choose your own arrangement here. There are ten little diagonal braces to go in underneath, these rely on simple butt joints but they were more of a fiddle than difficult. Looking at the photo below, I'm happy to see they all went in with a consistent pattern, and they are still there:


The kit is entirely plywood and it includes the parts to make an access ladder - two runners with five treads. I had an off-cut of 'Plastruct' ladder to hand (probably their 1:100 scale) so I cheated and glued this on instead. I put the kit together with PVA, slightly diluted with isopropyl alcohol and water, and applied from a little dropper bottle from Metcalfe Models.


August 2021

It took me nearly five years to summon up the courage to paint this model. In the end I settled for a Tamiya matt acrylic called 'German Grey', brushed straight onto the bare wood so the wood grain shows through:





I had a look at the coaling platform at the Middy beforehand, I think this Tamiya shade looks just right on the model but the photographs (LED light panel vs daylight) make the colours look very different:



Finally I added some coal:



This looks fine on the model but a bit coarse in this photo, maybe I should add a layer of smaller lumps. The glue was PVA diluted about 50:50 with isopropyl alcohol with no soap added. This solution does not show on the model, even around the fine dust, and has not altered the colour of the coal.


So - we now have a new kit for a British H0 structure (probably the first one for some time), and it is from a British manufacturer. Furthermore, if you model in one of the less-popular scales, perhaps the GEM 1:55 narrow gauge, you might like to ask Poppy's WoodTech if they can help with a suitable kit. Their approach using laser-cutting of real wood must surely be a great help for planking and other timber fittings with a lot of repeated detail.


This is a super kit.


- Richard.

Edited by 47137
Added details of painting and coal

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  • RMweb Gold

That does look good, and nice to see a manufacturer responding so quickly to your request. Thanks for the info.

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  • RMweb Gold

Proper job, well done buddy.

Thanks for this John. I imagined the occasional crane bucket slamming into the vertical panels from time to time, so I went for a chunky approach for their supports, with two supports side-by-side behind the right-hand end. Also this let me use up all the support sleepers in the kit.


I trimmed the right-hand panel short of the platform edge so it didn't make for a pinch point between a model worker and an engine.


- Richard.

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The most exciting part of this for me is a custom manufacturer actually producing something from a request.


I model British OO but in Australia, I have added this supplier to my list as they obviously are enthusiasts too.



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  • RMweb Gold

Blog post updated to add painting and the coal.


I wish a few more people would buy the kit! The platform ought to look the part on an 00 layout using the usual Peco '00/H0' track because the sleeper sizes will be similar, and it is of course a track-side structure.

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