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I've finished one more wagon for the layout, and this is the first British Railways wagon rather than an MSC one. Nothing too exciting, it's a ubiquitous 16t mineral.


The MSC's main mineral wharf was at Irwell Park, which was equipped with several large grab cranes and a numerous sidings. I think this photo dates from the mid 1950s as many of the mineral wagons look almost new, and there are still a few ex-PO wagons in the trains:



Irlam steelworks had its own wharf on the ship canal adjacent to the steelworks, which was used for most iron ore imports to the steelworks. However, on some occasions it was more convenient for the ship to unload at Irwell Park and take the ore to Irlam by train. I found online an image of a wagon label for such a movement. I-P-W stands for Irwell Park Wharf, and the wagon contained Magnesite Ore (a type of iron ore) from the ship 'Volante':


So this is an example of a BR wagon used for a journey entirely on MSC Railway metals. I would have thought that MSC wagons should be used for internal moves, but not in this case.

[Note that it was possible to go from Irwell Park to Irlam Steelworks via BR, but it would have been a very long way round, and the wagon label would have indicated that routing if it had been used.]


Anyway, I do like to model a specific wagon so I choose B245517 as on the wagon label. This is one of the slightly less common rivetted examples, diagram 1/109. Incidentally B186910 on the left hand side of the first image is also of this type, though from a different batch.


Most of the kits for 16t minerals are for the welded types, so I chose a Dapol RTR model for the rivetted one. It's pretty good really, my only complaint is that the interior is lacking in detail. That hopefully won't matter too much once it's loaded.

I renumbered it to my chosen number, and added some etched numberplates to the solebar.


With a 16t mineral the temptation is to make it a rusty rotten mess as commonly seen in the 1970s, but my model is set in the mid 1960s and they weren't in such bad condition then. On the other hand, they were worse than in the 1950s photo above.

I searched for photos of the rivetted wagons in the mid 1960s to get a feel for the patterns of rust on the sides and ends, and noted that the sill angles around the bottom and the door strapping seemed to attract rust more than the rest. I found a few black-and-white images of the diagram 1/109 in the mid-1960s but good colour views from this period were harder to find. A search through the '60s Industrial Steam' thread on here found a few examples, like the first one in this rake:

BAC 1 at Burntisland 1

Also the second one here:

WPR 16 at Methil West

This one is an earlier type of rivetted mineral but the photo is much clearer and it shows a similar weathering pattern:

Thornhill Power Station

I then tried to re-create that look, using the existing Dapol paint job as a basis. Here is the result:



I haven't used the airbrush on it yet, I might be tempted to give a dusting of grime over the top of everything, but I'm not sure it really needs it.


It will carry a load of iron ore, which is 80% complete. It reminds me of a Bactrian Camel because I have shaped the load in 2 humps, on the basis of the first image above which indicates that's how they were loaded by the grabs at Irwell Park.

However, mine won't be as full as those because iron ore is rather dense.


I've probably gone on rather too long about a common mineral wagon, but this illustrates the processes I go through when finishing one of these models.




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My other wagon project over the bank holiday weekend was to complete the 'Parrot'. This is the largest wagon for my layout, and will add an extra twist to the 'Inglenook sidings' style shunting puzzle as it is twice as long as the others.


The MSC bought two lots of 'Warflat' bogie bolsters in the mid 1920s, which they numbered 2253-2257 and 2705-2724. Under War Department ownership these had been coded 'Parrot', maybe because they were similar to a Macaw? 

They probably arrived at the MSC Railway still carrying their WD branding, and the 'Parrot' name stuck and remained in use throughout their lives, although latterly they were not branded as such.

Being robustly built and very useful for large and heavy loads, they had long lives in Manchester and were still in use in the 1960s as the MSC Railway operations began to wind down.


There are two photos of them in Don Thorpe's excellent book on the MSC Railways, including this rather nice view taken in WWII when they reprised their original purpose:



Some 1950s aerial photos show them in the MSC sidings; here is a rake of 3:


And here is a single one carrying a very long load, sandwiched between two 4-wheel flats to protect the overhanging ends:




I started with an MM1 resin kit, built mostly as per the instructions but with a few modifications to represent the MSC examples.

I found the kit pretty good, but I won't give it full marks. There were some parts missing, and when I enquired some of these were provided but I didn't get all the required parts and a subsequent email was ignored.

Also, I got the impression that some parts which had originally been lost-wax brass had been replaced with whitemetal castings, which were rather fragile and flashy.

Nevertheless, it was a good basis for the model and most of the parts were very good.

I had some transfers custom printed for the vehicle, also the number plates and handbrake on/off plates were custom etched:


Here is the completed model, one view of each side (Parrots are not symmetrical vehicles):





Being a 50-year old vehicle in my mid-60s period, it's rusty and dirty in places, though the rust doesn't show up too well on the black base colour in these photos.

It doesn't yet have a load; I thought I had that in hand but it turned out that I had bought some unsuitable material. Hopefully I'll get the new stuff soon.

Once I've made the load and roped it down, I'll post some more photos.







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I've completed the loads for the 16t mineral and the Parrot, so here's a quick update.

The mineral wagon has two mounds of iron ore: it's only travelled a couple of miles since it was loaded at Irwell Park, and iron ore has a fairly high angle of repose, so I've made the mounds quite distinct. Of course, it's not filled to the brim because iron ore is much denser than coal.

This load is made from a roughly shaped block of wood coated with DAS clay to get a better shape, then with ballast glued on top and painted in slightly varying red/brown shades:




The Parrot is loaded with steel bars, a scale 28 tons of 2" round bar tied into bundles. Round bar was one of the main products from Irlam steelworks in the latter years.

This load was inspired by these two photos of Manchester Docks, showing steel bars being loaded from a bogie bolster onto the ship 'Manchester Renown' in 1964:

https://www.sciencephoto.com/media/979886/view (note: this photo has been uploaded flipped left to right - you can read 'ESTER' back to front on the ship's side where it would have said 'MANCHESTER LINERS')


The load really is steel, and this wagon is now realistically heavy! I weight all my wagons but this is a bit above average.

I used 18 gauge florists wire supplied ready-cut to length (9"). I bought a big bundle and found some lengths were straighter than others so I tried to pick the better ones. They were supplied in lightly oiled natural finish and I've left them in that state - it looks spot on to me.

There are 7 bundles each of 30 bars; I had originally intended to do 9 bundles for a scale 36 tons which would have been almost a maximum load for the real wagon, but I thought the model was heavy enough with just 7 bundles!

The bundles are tied together with blackened copper wire; some of these ties have little paper labels threaded onto them to represent the labels in the photos of 'Manchester Renown' being loaded.

To add a bit of colour, I decided to paint the ends of the bars yellow to indicate the steel grade. To be honest I'm not sure whether this would have been done by the steelworks or the steel stockholder, but I think it looks good so I'll invoke Rule 1.

I've roped the load down, following what seems to have been MSC Railway practice. Again, this is based on photographic evidence where even heavy loads like this seem to have been usually roped rather than chained down.

I'm not sure if I've got the pattern of roping right, but it works on the model and if I turn it sideways or upside-down the load doesn't fall out!



So there we are - two distinctive wagons associated with the steelworks traffic on the MSC Railway.


My Ixion Hudswell Clarke saddle tank is lurking on the edge of the photos - at present this is the only loco in use and remains in as-bought condition other than fitting a DCC chip.

In due course it will be modified and detailed to represent MSC 78 which was based at Irlam/Partington in the late 50s and early 60s. It was basically the same type as the Ixion model but differs in several minor details.

However, that's a job for the future, I need to get another loco working before taking this one out of traffic!

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Mol excellent modelling on the 16t mineral wagon and parrot wagon. The loads look great.

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The coloured markings would be done before the wagon left the steelworks. There'd also, usually, be alpha-numeric markings indicating details of the melt etc, These days they use barcodes, I believe.

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18 hours ago, Fat Controller said:

These days they use barcodes, I believe.

I pity the poor s0d who has to pain them on! :)

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I’m terrible for starting projects and not finishing them. So for the last two weeks I have been strict with myself and finished off a few things that had been stuck for one reason or another. 

I haven’t got anything more to completion this week as I’ve been very busy at work, but I have made significant progress with the remaining two unfinished wagons, seen here:



On the left is Lancashire Tar Distillers tank wagon no.507, which is based on a Slaters kit but with a home-made tank to a smaller diameter than the one in the kit. I have made and painted this tank over the last couple of days and I’m pleased with how it has turned out, better than my first attempt which has now been scrapped. Now the tank is complete I can turn my attention back to finishing the chassis. 

Here’s the prototype:



On the right is an open wagon built from at etched kit, modified to represent one of the older MSC wagons still used into the 1960s. This will be in a rather tatty condition so I have started by painting it as ‘unpainted’. Next I will apply some black top-coat and then take much of it off again. 

Here’s a similar vehicle when newly acquired, they seem to have received more conventional brake gear later in life:



The third more major unfinished project lurks in the background and I’ll get back to that when these two wagons are finished. 

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A little progress tonight with some transfers on the two wagons.

Also some trials of representing tar spillage on a scrap tank barrel. Soon I will use the same techniques on the complete barrel. 

The open wagon still needs a lot more weathering, particularly fading out the lettering. 


There will now be a hiatus of a couple of weeks as I have a load of other commitments. 



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While visiting my parents for the first time in many months, I took the opportunity to call in at their local railway museum at Mangapps, which was also open for the first time this year.

They have a couple of wagons of interest to me, particularly Lancashire Tar Distillers rectangular tar tank No.568, seen here. Modelling this will be my next wagon project, once the two above are complete.


Another item in the Mangapps collection is an LNWR 'Crystal Palace' brake van, which the MSC Railway had one of. So I took a lot of detail photos of both vehicles to help me build accurate models.

They also had a 1959 Hudswell Clarke diesel, not the same as the one I'm modelling but it was useful to see certain HC details close up.


The museum at Mangapps has been greatly extended in recent years, and has a great collection of pre-grouping wagons and carriages as well as thousands of small exhibits. Well worth a visit. There's a short train ride too.



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