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Another go at a sheeted wagon

Dave John


Another go at a sheeted wagon. Fair criticism of the way my early attempts at roping sheets down led me to consider a more realistic way of doing things.


Looks a bit better in terms of roping, but I think I could improve the sit of the sheet itself.










The starting point is a CR D15 dropside whitemetal kit from 51L. This is made up in my normal fashion. However in order to tie the ropes down I needed to fit cleats to the solebar right in the corner where it meets the bottom edge of the curb rail. A bit of study suggested that these were a basic hook on the D15, some wagons had a T shaped fitment.  As far as I can tell there were 4 on the sides and 2 on the ends.


I drilled through at about 45 deg , 0.3 mm. Brass wire was inserted through these holes and superglued from the floor side. I say brass, but I’m not sure what it actually is. You know those fizzy wines where you get a net of brassy looking wire round the cork, well its that stuff. Much softer and easier to bend than brass rod, almost like 5 A fuse wire.






The sheet is I think an old exactoscale one. Basically wet it with water and  a tiny spot of pva, mould it round the wagon and foam load. When dry ease it off. Ropes of elastic EZline superglued on to form loops. Thats a fiddly job…..







Well, hmm. It does look better than bits of cotton tied round the whole thing. I am still thinking about a way of reinforcing the lower sheet edge and having the rope pass through holes ( doubt I could manage a scale eyelet ) Given the prevalence of sheeted wagons in trains it is something I want to keep nibbling away at, but thats for next time.

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Hurrah for someone paying proper attention to the widely-neglected question of wagon sheets. I admire your dedication in adding the solebar cleats - I've got by with just fixing tie-ropes in roughly the right place with a dab of glue applied on the point of a pin. I hope you will excuse some comments based on my own reading and staring at photos.


The position of the eyelets was I'm fairly sure the same for all companies' sheets, 16 along the edges: one at each corner and three along each side. My personal preference has been to glue the tie rope to the outside of the sheet; this helps pull the edge of the sheet in tight to the side of the wagon - we don't want a draught of wind getting in an lifting the sheet once the train is in motion:




This sheet, a Roger Smith one I think, comes with dots for the eyelet positions and also a representation of the seams joining the five strips of material. There was a further set of three eyelets on each side along the first seam, in triangular flaps of material sewn into the seam. Here I haven't attempted to represent the flaps but have glued the tie ropes in the appropriate positions, with a view to using it on a low-sided wagon. I haven't yet used it, since I realised it was unsuitable for my preferred c. 1902 modelling date - this sheet was last overhauled in May 1920 and was due for inspection in February 1921. There's also now considerable doubt as to the diagonal red cross, as discussed by Penlan here; a square-on red cross like the Caledonian blue one is more usual. Could the brass eyelets be represented by a dot from a gold ink pen?


My information on sheets comes from three main sources:

1. R. Essery, Sheets, Ropes & Sacks, in Midland Record No.3.

2. http://www.igg.org.uk/rail/9-loads/9-tarps.htm

3. BR Document 20424, Sept. 1965, from the Barrowmore Model Railway Group's website. Although this document dates from towards the very end of the wagon-load era of freight on the "traditional" railway, it clearly represents the accumulation of over a century of wisdom and experience - some of the sections on loading are well-nigh identical to instructions reproduced in the appendices to LNWR Wagons

Edited by Compound2632
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PS I like the prototypical arrangement of the buffer springs! A bit dicey to set up with a plastic wagon kit, though.

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A very attractive model, Dave. I think the roping looks good. As you say, the way the sheet sits is so difficult to get quite right, although yours isn't bad. I think my next experiments will involve  cling-film.

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Just now, Mikkel said:

the way the sheet sits is so difficult to get quite right, 


... hampered by the lack of good period photos, quite apart from any technical issues.

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Well, its getting better each time I try it Compound. I estimated a spacing of about 18" for eyelets based on the one period photo of a CR sheet I have, so that would agree with the 16 eyelets per side. One idea would be to strengthen the inside edge of the sheet to enable the line to be threaded through with a very fine needle. Cling film might be an idea Mikkel, though wrapping it round to make a paper based sheet tight to the wagon would mean it would take ages to dry. 


Anyway, part of ongoing experiments. Since the cleats are soft it would be easy to remove that sheet and have another go. 

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22 minutes ago, Dave John said:

Well, its getting better each time I try it Compound. I estimated a spacing of about 18" for eyelets based on the one period photo of a CR sheet I have, so that would agree with the 16 eyelets per side. . 


Caledonian sheets must have been different - Midland, etc., 16 round the sides altogether, plus 3 on triangular flaps on the seams on each side, giving 22 eyelets altogether. 

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