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Here's a couple of horse-drawn vehicles for "The bay". This GWR parcels van is based on No. 131, representing a type introduced in the 1890s. The horse is not actually tap dancing - it only looks that way! Anyway, this is a Langley kit, and went together reasonably well with no major hitches. The instructions are good and include detail on the paint scheme. The completed parcels van on "The bay". A Coal-merchant's trolley from Shirescenes. The kit also includes price boards and scales, the latter being a rather nice touch. I had a spot of trouble fitting the axles to the correct ride-height, as this seemed counter-intuitive and the instructions are a bit vague in this respect. But other than that, a nice kit to build. The trolley installed on "The bay". I eventually decided to modify it a bit and just have it as a simple flat vehicle.
Here's the third and last instalment about my recent trio of horse drawn wagons. This is yet another GWR "dray", as they are commonly known. GWR drawings generally use the term "trolley", which I understand was the original and more correct term for what is today popularly called drays. The wagon was built from an old Pendon kit, picked up on ebay. There is no mention of the prototype, but it resembles a 7 ton trolley drawing in the Great Western Horsepower book. An illustration of the variation in length and width of three kits for flat drays/trolleys – nicely reflecting how the prototypes varied too, as vehicles do of course. On the left is a Dart Castings offering (see earlier post), and on the right is the Slater’s kit which really is quite large. The Pendon kit is the middle one. The only structural modification I made was the addition of the rear flap (is there a proper name?). These are usually in the down position, held by chains. The main part of the project involved modifying the horse, the carter (aka carman) and "van lad". The horse is from the Dart Castings stable. The photo above illustrates some of their range (no connection), with the measurements as stated in their lists. I like their 1:87 draft horse, which has the bulk of a strong horse but isn’t visually overpowering, as I think some horses can be in a layout context. I had a couple of these horses so modified one of them by raising its head. The neck from a discarded old Langley horse helped achieve this. On the left is the original figure by Dart Castings (as used on my “Ratkin & Son" wagon), on the right is the modified one. Similar work was done to make the carter, using a Dart Castings body and an Andrew Stadden head. Period photos and show that on flat drays like these, carters very often sat on the left side, like this. Presumably it is the safest and most practical position when you have to get on and off frequently, as they did. The van lad was made by modifying an Andrew Stadden figure, as seen here. He has not yet reached the grade that allows him to wear a uniform. A load was made using surplus items from the goods depot, e.g. my DIY cotton bales and crates, and various kits and ready-made items. I added some indicative roping from EZ line. Just a couple of ropes, as too much of this sort of thing tends to distract the eye in my view. In any case, the roping and packing practices on horsedrawn vehicles seems to have been more relaxed than on the permanent way. Two examples here and here. The other side. I tried to avoid colour clashes when building the load. And finally the wagon in place on the layout. That concludes this little series of horsey updates for now. Keep on trotting!
Here’s another horse-drawn vehicle for my goods depot, this time a scratchbuilt light trolley in the GWR’s “Birmingham” style. The model was built from styrene and bits in my spares box, with wheels bought in from Langley. Drawings and photos suggest that there was a bewildering amount of detail variation within this basic type. I based my model on a drawing on page 241 of P. Kelley's "Great Western Road Vehicles", which was built in several lots. Another almost identical version can be seen on page 243 of the same volume. Various photos of the trolleys in action at Hockley can be seen here, although my particular version is closer to one depicted at Slough on page 38 of "GWR Goods Services" Part 2A. The vehicles had a protective canvas cover over the driver which could be extended backwards over the load in wet weather. The canvas was held by hoops over the seat, which – unlike many other goods delivery vehicles – seem to have been permanently fitted. In typical old-world fashion, these otherwise mundane vehicles had moulded panels along the sides. I fashioned the latter from strips of Evergreen - could've done with a Silhouette cutter there! The wheels were a bit of a problem. The closest I could find were Langley’s 12mm wheels. These are 0.9 mm too small and have 11 spokes where they should have 12. In the end I compromised and used them. If I find better wheels I'll replace them. The springs are modified leftovers from Coopercraft wagon kits. The fore carriage and shafts were a nice little puzzle to build. The drawing does not clearly show the type of shafts used. The GWR used several varieties, with designs becoming simpler over the years. To cut a long story short, I chose the graceful “curvy” style of the earlier types. Main parts assembled and ready for painting. Lettering presented the usual problem when you need non-standard sizes. Photos of trolleys from the 1900s show some with serif lettering, some with sans serifs. Some have numbers at the front, others at the rear. I eventually used HMRS Hawksworth coach lettering (!), which is a compromise but not too far off for sans serif lettering. I've only just noticed the broken spoke - a fault in the casting it seems. The weather sheet fitted. Again there was variety on the prototypes. On some vehicles the sheet extended all the way down over the sides, on others it stopped short above the deck. The sheet was fashioned from a wagon tarpaulin from the Smiths range, turned over to hide the lettering. Final detailing included adding a few bits of this fine chain which I've only recently discovered. It is imported by Cambrian Models and has the great advantage of being pre-blackened. It is 33 links per inch, and can be obtained from Cambrian themselves or by internet order from H&A Models (I have no connection to either). For horse power, I chose the recently introduced "feathered" Vanner from Dart, seen here on the left together with a mate from Shirescenes for comparison. As always with figures, I prefer relaxed/calm poses - and I liked the way the Vanner was bending its head down. The bucket was fashioned from bits in the spares box. Keeping draught horses in good shape was taken very seriously, and photos show them both feeding and drinking while waiting at goods depots (eg here). So that's about it. It's been interesting to scratchbuild this vehicle and thereby learn about the design of these vehicles. Sometimes doing a small project like this can bring as much satisfaction (and challenge!) as a whole layout, I think. For a couple of other scratchbuilt GWR horse-drawn vehicles, see Jerry Clifford's lovely little vehicles, and Beachcomber Bob's dray here on RMweb.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Done. The chain in the middle is a rough indication of the chains and skids used for locking and braking the wheels when parked. 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. 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. 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. 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.