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Fake news and wagon sheets

Mikkel

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On Twitter today:

 

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Anyway, enough fooling around. The wagon sheets (aka tarpaulins) seen in these photos are the preliminary results of experiments with aluminum foil. My original plan was to go the whole hog with cords and ropes etc, but as I started fitting sheets to my wagons I got cold feet. My wagons are nothing special but I like to look at them, and here I was covering them up!

 

 

 

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So as a compromise I have decided - at least for the time being - to go for removable “shells” made from 0.05 mm aluminum foil and a paper skin, as seen above. The foil is self-supporting and maintains the shape, so the sheets do not need an actual load beneath them. This means I can add and remove them as I please. They can also be exchanged across different wagons of similar dimensions.

 

 

 

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I initially used pre-primed foil for military modellers from Dio-Dump, but then found that I could buy the "raw" foil here in Denmark and prime it myself. Incidentally I also tried ordinary kitchen foil, which is thinner and therefore easier to fold, but it is also more fragile and less self-supporting than the 0,05 mm stuff.

 

 

 

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I first tried using transfers directly on the foil as seen here (details in my workbench thread), but making the transfers was a bit time-consuming and they proved difficult to weather.

 

 

 

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So instead I printed the designs onto ordinary printer paper, gave them a coat of varnish and glued them to the foil with a thin layer of PVA. The designs are appropriate for the 1900s and were originally drawn up by Ian – thanks again Ian!

 

 

 

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The sheets were then folded and “massaged” into shape, and given an oily but not too shiny look. This was done by applying 3-4 layers of matt varnish, brushed over with weathering powders when each coat was almost dry (hence the mess!). Perhaps this technique could also be used to give the popular ready-made sheets from Smiths a less “paper”-like look.

 

 

 

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Photos show that in general the sheets were more “loose” than one might think. They also show that at the ends, the top was usually (but not always) folded down first, with the side flaps folded down outside that. The foil-plus-paper combo does add thickness to the sheets, so folding them naturally is not always easy and requires patience.

 

 

 

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Above are the sheets fitted to two 5-plank Opens to diagram O4, the first GWR designs to feature sheet rails. The sheets look older than the wagons, I always overdo the weathering! The biggest compromise is of course that the sheets have no cords or ropes. For the time being I’m prepared to accept this in return for the ability to add and remove the sheets as I please. My excuse is that the sheets were normally tied down with short thin cords, which can be hard to see in prototype photos. Actual roping was only used on particularly tall or bulky loads.

 

Even so, the method is obviously a compromise and I may return to these experiments later to see what can be improved. For now I’m a bit tired of wagon sheets though. And politics. Plus, we still don't know the secrets of GWR wagon red. The livery instructions can't be found. I bet the Chinese have them. James, got a minute?

 

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Mikkel,

 

The tarpaulins look really good.  I like the depth of weathering you've managed to apply too.  As mentioned in your other thread, I'm really glad that others have made use of my artwork!

 

One of the things I found difficult to locate were good photos of wagons with tarpaulins that were actually legible - it being almost impossible (for me) to find ones that you could see the number and the date, meaning that I at least will almost certainly have numbers on tarpaulins that are not actually appropriate for my c. 1906 layout.  Am I worried about that, not at all! :-)

 

Ian

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Marvelous work as always Mikkel, and your update both entertaining and instructive in equal measure.

 

As to your dilemma about 'cords and ropes' ...

 

Could you shape and form a semblance of ropes to appropriate contours over top and sides, but sort of snip them off roughly around the point they were tied to the underframe so you could still lift the 'shells' off if required?

 

I wonder if anyone would notice if they weren't exactly 100% tied to the underframe ... as I'm sure you're aware, the minds-eye often fills-in the details you expect to see :)

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Wonderful pics, Mikkel - The simplicity of the foreground and the perspective of the sky are totally convincing.  Southernboy is correct - the minds-eye fills in all the details - there's no need to model every weed and blade of grass.

 

Unfortunately, they are all fakes - we cognoscenti know that the underframes were red :)

 

Mike

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Nice, they hang in a very realistic way with a heavy look about them. 

 

I did try removable rope loops  from fine brown shirring elastic at one point. It sort of worked, but not something that you could do with the wagon on the track, but would still get round the tied on with cotton thing. 

 

The top three photos are great fun.

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Wonderful Mikkel. The sheets look really good as well. The view of the train with a few wagons sheeted and others without looks about right. Sheeted wagons are fairly rare on model layouts but appear in lots of photos.

 

Don 

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Crooked Hillary sent those sheets from a private email server. The failing MRJ won't look into it! Unfair!

 

(seriously, brilliant work - very observant and convincing as ever).

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Mikkel,

 

The tarpaulins look really good.  I like the depth of weathering you've managed to apply too.  As mentioned in your other thread, I'm really glad that others have made use of my artwork!

 

One of the things I found difficult to locate were good photos of wagons with tarpaulins that were actually legible - it being almost impossible (for me) to find ones that you could see the number and the date, meaning that I at least will almost certainly have numbers on tarpaulins that are not actually appropriate for my c. 1906 layout.  Am I worried about that, not at all! :-)

 

Ian

 

Glad you like them Ian, even with their shortcomings. I agree about the numbering and date often being illegible in photos. I my little collection of online photos, this one comes closest to showing it clearly: http://www.warwickshirerailways.com/lms/mrcgy692a.htm

 

But most of the time they are obscured by the folds etc, as here: https://marketlavingtonmuseum.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/another-photo-of-lavington-station/

 

So with a bit of strategic folding of the sheets, it would even be possible to get away with using the same sheet (and thereby number) several times! 

 

 

Marvelous work as always Mikkel, and your update both entertaining and instructive in equal measure.

 

As to your dilemma about 'cords and ropes' ...

 

Could you shape and form a semblance of ropes to appropriate contours over top and sides, but sort of snip them off roughly around the point they were tied to the underframe so you could still lift the 'shells' off if required?

 

I wonder if anyone would notice if they weren't exactly 100% tied to the underframe ... as I'm sure you're aware, the minds-eye often fills-in the details you expect to see :)

 

Thanks Mark, I see what you mean, so in the case of ropes they could be stuck down across the sheets and then maybe with a little snippet (perhaps dipped in glue to keep it straight) extending over the wagon side... It might be possible, I'll try that when I find the motivation to return to this. 

 

One thing though is that in the many photos I have seen, actual roping of the sheets doesn't occur very often. I think we tend to like roping because it adds interesting detail, but it seems that most of the time it was just those little cords along the sides that were used. I wish I could add the photos of GWR sheets being prepared as seen in GWR Goods Operations Vol 2A, but I had better not. Compound posted a nice quote on LMS practice here:    http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/97672-pragmatic-pre-grouping-mikkels-workbench/?p=2579408

 

 

Wonderful pics, Mikkel - The simplicity of the foreground and the perspective of the sky are totally convincing.  Southernboy is correct - the minds-eye fills in all the details - there's no need to model every weed and blade of grass.

 

Unfortunately, they are all fakes - we cognoscenti know that the underframes were red :)

 

Mike

 

Thanks very much Mike. Interesting point that you and Southernboy make about the mind filling in the details. Getting a bit arty-farty for a moment, I think that could be said to be a key principle in impressionist approaches to modelling. The only question then is whether we have different "minds-eyes" !

 

E.g. does the minds-eye of an experienced railway man look for different things than an amateur such as myself? Does the minds-eye of a wagon brake enthusiast immediately capture the poor Coopercraft brake gear and the fact that the DC3 brakes on the O4s are inappropriate for the period? (I'm backdating them btw).

 

As for the colour of underframes, I must refer to Mr Trump - surely the most reliable source on earth. 

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Mikkel,

 

These are the first model tarpaulins I've seen that look like the real thing. I experimented with black plastic dustbin liner which captured the folds better than paper but it was impossible to then letter or paint (weather) them. As has been observed elsewhere sheeted wagons were far more common on the prototype than might be inferred from the models one sees and to model them in paper does not really cut it (excuse the pun) .

 

I was interested in your thoughts about seeing your own modelling through different eyes. Modelling always entails a degree of compromise, how many steam locomotives do you know of that have a large brass gear wheel under the chassis. Also, as has been demonstrated by the debates on the wagon red livery, sometimes the information is just not there or is often contradictory. I think everyone has to find their own level at which they compromise. As skills improve, and more importantly more time becomes available, then that level can rise. I discontinued my subsciption to MRJ many years ago as it always seemed to be a race to the peak of perfection requiring skills, tools, time and expense that were beyond the reach of many. We should be like golfers, enjoy the pastime even if you're not Rory McIlroy.

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.........The only question then is whether we have different "minds-eyes" !.......

Art would be very boring if all artists saw things the same way. I suppose an extreme example is Turner's 'rain, steam and speed' - definitely not one for rivet counters!   I'm so pleased to have Amy's paintings of North Leigh, which convey so much that my modelling cannot :)

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Nice, they hang in a very realistic way with a heavy look about them. 

 

I did try removable rope loops  from fine brown shirring elastic at one point. It sort of worked, but not something that you could do with the wagon on the track, but would still get round the tied on with cotton thing. 

 

The top three photos are great fun.

 

Thanks Dave. Shirring elastic, that's an interesting idea! The sheets sit quite well on the wagons because of the weight of the foil, and don't shift when the wagons move. The foil can also be pressed at the sides to help this. But the elastic could help simulate roping.

 

 

Wonderful Mikkel. The sheets look really good as well. The view of the train with a few wagons sheeted and others without looks about right. Sheeted wagons are fairly rare on model layouts but appear in lots of photos.

 

Don

 

Thanks Don! I'm glad you liked the view of the goods train. It was inspired by this old handcoloured post card: http://www.sypc.org.uk/2016/02/gwr-badminton-line/

 

Crooked Hillary sent those sheets from a private email server. The failing MRJ won't look into it! Unfair!

 

(seriously, brilliant work - very observant and convincing as ever).

 

Many thanks Al. I confess that, yes, Hillary is the source of the wagon sheets. She is known on here as Ian and models the GWR in 2mmFS, but that is just a cover! :-) 

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First something about politics:

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”
Aldous Huxley, Collected Essays 

So unfortunately people are reacting in the same way on risks as in the past.   

 

And about the modeling I can only say: I still enjoy reading your entries. Nice explenation and usefull pictures.

 

About the search for color. I would advice the detective force of Scotland Yard in Victorian times, for example Nathaniel Druscovich and Inspector John Meiklejohn. I believe James Bond is a great secret agent, but that his knowledge about paint less adequate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mikkel,

 

These are the first model tarpaulins I've seen that look like the real thing. I experimented with black plastic dustbin liner which captured the folds better than paper but it was impossible to then letter or paint (weather) them. As has been observed elsewhere sheeted wagons were far more common on the prototype than might be inferred from the models one sees and to model them in paper does not really cut it (excuse the pun) .

 

I was interested in your thoughts about seeing your own modelling through different eyes. Modelling always entails a degree of compromise, how many steam locomotives do you know of that have a large brass gear wheel under the chassis. Also, as has been demonstrated by the debates on the wagon red livery, sometimes the information is just not there or is often contradictory. I think everyone has to find their own level at which they compromise. As skills improve, and more importantly more time becomes available, then that level can rise. I discontinued my subsciption to MRJ many years ago as it always seemed to be a race to the peak of perfection requiring skills, tools, time and expense that were beyond the reach of many. We should be like golfers, enjoy the pastime even if you're not Rory McIlroy.

 

Thanks very much, I like the golf analogy!  The pursuit of realism is good when it drives us forward, I think, but it can also hold people like myself back from making any progress, if we take things too seriously and get bogged down.

 

It's interesting to hear about your experiences with dustbin liner as I have been wondering whether some thin type of plastic might work. As you say, it is those natural folds that are so hard to replicate.

 

I have been looking at what military and car modellers do, and I think the approach below could give some convincing results - however if you use that method there is no way back so I'm a little reluctant to try it!

 

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Sorry about the comments getting mixed up, our internet keeps shutting me out.

 

Art would be very boring if all artists saw things the same way. I suppose an extreme example is Turner's 'rain, steam and speed' - definitely not one for rivet counters!   I'm so pleased to have Amy's paintings of North Leigh, which convey so much that my modelling cannot :)

 

Ah yes, the artist's perspective! Amy's paintings are excellent. But she needs some new scenes to paint, so someone is going to have to build them (hint!)  :)

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First something about politics:

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

Aldous Huxley, Collected Essays

So unfortunately people are reacting in the same way on risks as in the past.   

 

And about the modeling I can only say: I still enjoy reading your entries. Nice explenation and usefull pictures.

 

About the search for color. I would advice the detective force of Scotland Yard in Victorian times, for example Nathaniel Druscovich and Inspector John Meiklejohn. I believe James Bond is a great secret agent, but that his knowledge about paint less adequate.

 

Thanks Job, those words are sadly true it seems. 

 

Inspector Meiklejohn seems to have been a pretty corrupt type, just the sort of person to appear in Farthing :-) As for Bond, I actually like Craig's portrayal of him and the added depth they given his character, which reminds me of a darker version of Connery. But I seem to be in a monitory about that!

 

Returning to tarpaulins, I came across this just now, quite interesting I think:

 

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...........Returning to tarpaulins, I came across this just now, quite interesting I think:

 

Thank you for posting this video.  The sort of quick and dirty method that appeals to me.  He has a pretty cavalier spraybooth technique too :)

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Yes, I think this could be the way forward. I hope those spraypaints are at least acrylic!

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